Malagasy Cuisine — Lasopy: Pureed Vegetable Soup

Lasopy (recipe follows), a hearty vegetable soup from the heart of Madagascar, is a frequent fixture at the Malagasy dinner table.  Meat bones and the local, seasonal crop of vegetables are simmered together until tender then pureed into a smooth, not-too-thick soup.  If available, pieces of baguette (an artifact of the French colonial period of Madagascar) might be served alongside.

Lasopy can be made with whatever vegetables look fresh at the supermarket.  In our research we saw recipes that included carrots, tomatoes, green onions, green beans, turnips, potatoes, or leeks.  Turnips and green beans seem to be the common thread so we were sure to include them in our recipe.  Avoiding overpowering flavors like broccoli or cabbage, everything else was selected on a what-looks-good basis.

Lasopy

adapted from the University of Pennsylvania’s Africa Cookbook project and from the
Ukrainian Classic Kitchen forum

SERVES 6 TO 8 AS A SIDE DISH

  • 1/2 pound pork bones (left over from deboning a couple bone-in pork chops for a stir fry; nearly all recipes for this dish online derive from the UPenn one, which uses three pounds of veal bones, which we are sure would result in a much richer end product; we were just fine with a lighter soup for this meal)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 1 small turnip, roughly diced
  • 2 large green onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly sliced
  • about 1 1/2 cups green beans, cut into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • salt and pepper to taste

A big chunk of the work for this dish is simply prepping the vegetables.  First they were all washed, carrots peeled, and assembled for a group photo to commemorate the occasion:

vegetables
Yes, those look like leeks. The reader is assured that they are simply monstrously huge green onions, but is free to substitute whatever onion or leek relative he or she sees fit.

Once everything was clean, the vegetables were cut into pieces (the exact size of which is not too important since everything’s ending up in a blender anyway) and gathered, ready for the stockpot:

ingredientsready

The soup ingredients were put into a small stockpot, covered with water, and seasoned with a healthy pinch each of salt and pepper:

soupinpot

Once brought to a simmer, the soup was covered and left to its own devices (aside from the occasional stir to ensure that nothing was sticking) for about an hour.  Once the vegetables were mushy-tender, the bones were fished out of the soup and the soup was ladled into the blender in two batches for pureeing.  Due to differences in vegetable buoyancy, the first batch was turnip-heavy and pale:

firstblendedbatch

…while the second, containing mainly the green beans, what about what you’d expect:

secondblenderbatch

This was not a concern since obviously the two batches will be recombined and reheated before serving:

soupreheating

Lasopy looks a little like split pea soup, but could not taste more different.  With concentration on each bite we could detect the constituent vegetables that formed the lasopy, but in casual tasting the flavors were nearly perfectly complimentary, with no vegetable standing out too much above the others.  Alongside a rich meat dish as we served it, lasopy is a light, fresh palate cleanser that offsets the fattiness of the beef dish.  The dish was an interesting contrast to, and maybe even an improvement upon, the thick cream soups to which our Western palates are more accustomed.

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