I’m No Cook…But I can Try, Right? Belizean Style.

The soup down here is the best.  I love it all…and here are my favorites (ranked).  1. Conch Soup 2. Chilmole Soup (also known as “Black Dinner” it’s a black colored chicken soup, flavored with black recado and served with a whole boiled egg and rice) 3. Beef Soup (I love that big stick like vegetable that is in it – cassava, this stuff is so good )  4. Chicken Soup.  Like everyone in the world.  It is my go-to sick comfort food. 

My mother is a huge soup person so I will dedicate this attempt at cooking to her.

Honestly, I always buy soup from a takeout place or beg someone who is a great cook to make me some.

But chicken soup?  How hard can it be?  I went to Marina’s Store south of town to buy the ingredients (my best guess) and the woman at the front counter was nice enough to give me a quick recipe.  Her advice?   Boil water, add the chicken pieces (I got two thighs, two winglets and two unidentified pieces in my $4bzd/$2usd package). Add the vegetables and a few Tablespoons of chicken bouillon/consomme.  Add a bunch of cilantro and a habanero whole.  Cook for about half an hour.  She added on a good humored sneer “gial…how long you been here?”.  You are right…I should know how to do this.
Let’s take a quick look at the habanero chili.  They are a part of almost every Belizean meal.  If you order any “local” food, you are going to get one on the side…or in the dish.   I’ve seen little kids bite these like cherries.  It’s insane.  (Beware though…If vendors see your white skin, it will be excluded from your dish and probably rightly so.  Ask restaurants to “do it the way they do it for Belizeans” if you like a bit of heat).    This pepper will knock you on your ass.  And it’s tiny…maybe the size of your pinkie finger.
There is an official scale to measure heat…Scoville scale for hotness.  
Habanero makes the jalapeno look like a total wimp…like Alfred E Newman… PeeWee Herman…Bill Gates. …Erkel. Here’s the science.
Here is my point.  When you finish cooking, let it stay in the soup.  It adds great flavor and hardly any heat.  BUT DO NOT EAT IT.   Do not be tempted.  It is crazy hot.  But it is a great addition.  Particularly when you are sick.  You will thank me.
Here is a picture of my ingredients.  AND I AM SUPER EXCITED.  This meal is CHEAP!  $13bzd for all of this ($6.50 usd).  And it will make enough for 6+ meals. (If I don’t TOTALLY mess it up).  THIS is what I need to start doing…money is tight for everyone this time of year and frankly, I am broke.
I decided to brown the chicken pieces on both side.  I haven’t logged in thousands and thousands of cooking network viewing hours for nothing.  Thanks Ina Garten.  Once brown, I added 6 cups of tap water.  And when it started boiling, I threw the chopped carrots and onions. Big chop!  There are no dainty pieces in Belizean soup.  I’m talking quarter carrots.  Potatoes went in after 5 minutes.  Add two big spoons (tablespoons) of consomme powder and cook for 20 minutes.  DONE!
The rice is a different story.  With Belizean soups, the rice is served separately with a slice of lime.  It’s a great idea…you add it to the fresh soup yourself.  But rice is tough for me, I have always found it really hard to prepare.  It burns on the bottom…there is too much water left…so I called my ex-coworker and friend, Kevin.  He is a great cook. 
Here is the rice recipe according to Kevin.  Rinse the rice and pick out an black bits.  (I slacked on this…can blackish rice really kill me?)  Put the rice in a pot and cover it with water up to the first wrinkles on your “trigger finger” – that is what Kevin told me.   (The lines right below the nail on your pointer finger, index finger).   Boil, turn down to a simmer, add some cooking oil and salt, then cover and cook for 30 mins.  Check 15 minutes in to make sure you haven’t totally screwed it up.  (I had to add another 1/2 cup of water).
This is Kevin:
The soup is DELICIOUS.  The rice is slightly gummy..but once in the soup it’s great.  No need to take the chicken off the bone.  That’s not how it’s done down here.

My tips?

  • Start with less consomme powder, you can always add more.  Too little is better than too much  Wait until it starts to really cool down and add some more if you need it.  That’s when you can actually taste the soup!
  • You cannot get enough cilantro.  I added two big bunches (one in the beginning- whole stems and one at the end- more finely chopped) and I could use more.  But I love the stuff.  I’m sure some other fresh herb would do…parsley?  Some crazy people seem to think that cilantro tastes like soap.
  • Squeeze a bit of fresh lime right in when you serve yourself a bowl.  Helps with your cold as well.
  • Add more vegetables.  More of all.  And cho-cho would have been delish.  A few cloves of crush garlic probably would not hurt.
Now I’m not only a blogger…I’m a cook!  My next venture?  Beef soup.  THIS IS EASY and fun and tasty.

I’m waiting for the Food Network to call so please don’t tie up my phone lines.

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  • Hey San Pedro Scoop,

    First of all… Happy Saturday!!! 🙂

    Now, I simply loved your blog post. I’m now gettin’ kind’a inspired to follow suit. I love cooking so I will start blogging as “The Naked Chef” (LOL). Maybe this way, I can remember exactly what I did and actually have a lil’ recipe.

    A couple of weeks ago, I did some (multi-award winning) spicy chicken wings that was soooooo deeee-lisch. One week later, my wife asked to do some more cuz she was boasting to her fam and some friends about the awesomenesss of my wings. Now as “The Naked Chef”, I like to shoot from the hip (no pun intended). I thunked and thunked and the only main ingredient that came back to mind was the chicken wings. (don’t laugh) After all, there was some drinking involved when I first made the wings.

    Anywhooo… like I said earlier, I love your blog. Looking forward to the next. At the same time, look out for blogs from Chronicles of LeRoiXXX/HappyMan: “The Naked Chef”. Ciao!!!

    Nuff Rispek

    PS: I don’t watch Ina Garten anymore since that article on Yahoo where she snubbed a lil’ kid with cancer TWICE! #justsayin

  • Me

    Tee hee. Ina snubbed a kid with cancer? Hard to believe! I still love her. Food looks so good.

  • I’ll definitely try this! I learned how to make stew chicken while we were there this time…and rice & beans. Turned out scrumptious! And I brought some recado home so will make it in both places. And I’m thinking rice & beans (with brown rice in our house) should be a staple, just cooked and put in the fridge for reheating any time.