Nine times out of ten, the ‘recipes’ I formulate are quite bad. I’ve enthusiastically had a crack at creating my own chilli, curries, and pasta sauces, but with not much success. The problem, I think, is that I go a bit astray with my spices and seasonings: with a cupboard full of various herbs and vinegars, it’s easy to get carried away.
The only way I tend to succeed is when I have someone else’s recipe as my base. Often, I substitute one thing for another, out of preference, or just for what I have to hand. My most recent appropriation was of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Amazing Mexican tortilla soup’, from his (fantastic) Everyday Superfood.
(A friend of mine recently told me of another food blogger who has a tendency to pass off other people’ recipes as her own. This is something I would never do. It’s not only unfair to whoever worked hard to create it, but dishonest: they are feigning a level of skill and knowledge which they haven’t merited. Although some of us have natural abilities with food, most of us don’t; those, like me, must invest a lot of time in cooking, and bake many a bad cake on their way.)
The version I ended up with was quite tasty – although never having made the original, I can’t make any fair comparisons. The tortillas gained a pleasantly mushy texture from soaking up the sauce; and the spring onions gave a great finishing burst of flavour.
You’ll need (to serve one):
- a sweet potato
- one large wholemeal tortilla
- two salad tomatoes
- 80g sweetcorn
- two spring onions
- half a red chilli
- a clove of garlic
- fresh basil
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- cheddar or feta cheese
- juice of half a lime
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, or 180 degrees Celsius. Slice the sweet potato into chips, drizzle with olive oil, and season with the ground coriander, salt, and pepper. Mix well with your hands, before putting them in the oven for half an hour or so.
In the meantime, finely chop the spring onions, garlic, and chilli. Place half to one side, and quarter the tomatoes. Fry the rest of the onion, chilli and garlic over a medium heat for two minutes, before adding the tomatoes and 300ml boiling water. Simmer with the lid on for twenty minutes.
As the sweet potatoes reach being done, tear the tortilla into reasonably big strips, and put in the oven until crispy. Then, add them to the soup with the basil, and mix everything together.
Dish up, and sprinkle with the rest of the spices. Squeeze over the lime and add plenty of cheese.
The recipe originally required one sweet potato between two, chickpeas instead of sweetcorn, and a small tortilla each instead of large ones. I rather think that my alterations offered a good alternative: I didn’t have to put half a sweet potato in the fridge; and the sweetcorn added a fantastic colour and were perhaps lighter than the chickpeas. The corn also went very well with the spring onions. However, I did miss the coriander – it compliments the combinations of tomato, cheese, and lime perfectly.
All in all, I was elated that I hadn’t completely ruined Jamie’s original.