This is a recipe from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. She describes Locro as a substantial South American soup-stew, traditionally eaten by “plucking small rounds of corn from the soup with the fingers.” She says Locro is a meal in one that always contains a grain and sometimes meat or fish. The combination of ingredients may seem a bit strange, but she claims that beans similar to anasazi beans as well as many varieties of seaweed are sold at Indian markets in Bolivia. Wood says to make this soup only in corn season, but I used frozen corn and enjoyed it nonetheless.
- 1/2 cup anasazi beans
- 1/3 cup whole or pearl barley
- 1 stick (3 inches) kombu
- 8 cups veg. or chicken stock
- 1 Tbs. sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. anise seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small leek, sliced
- 2 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup peeled, diced celery root
- 1 ear fresh corn, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 new mexican chili, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 2 cups chopped collards or kale
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Soak the beans.
- Put the barley in a saucepan over med-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until grains begin to pop and turn a shade darker. Combine the barley, soaked beans, kombu and stock in a soup pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour.
- Warm the oil in a large saute pan over med. heat. Add the anise seeds and cook for 1 minutes, or until they become aromatic. Add the garlic, leek, mushrooms, celery root, and corn. Lightly saute each one before adding the next. Saute until vegetables just begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Scrape the vegetables until the soup, add the chili, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beans are soft. Remove and discard the kombu or chop it into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot. Add the collards and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook ten minutes more.
- Ladle into bowls and serve hot, garnished with cilantro.
I used roman beans since I couldn’t find anasazi, and frozen corn rather than fresh. My favorite part of the soup were the mushrooms (I never would have thought to put shiitake’s in a south americna soup) and the celery root. The celery root got so incredibly sweet and delicious, next time I’ll increase the amount.
The ingredient list is long but I thought the soup was worth it.
I made this a second time, with a few substitutions and changes. I used a whole Tbs. of anise seeds, which still wasn’t too much. The soup had a great anise flavor, but could possibly have used even a bit more. I love anise, and have almost no savory recipes that call for it (hint, hint, anyone have one to share?) I also added more shiitakes, used rutabaga instead of celery root, pinto beans instead of anasazi–and more of them, shallots instead of leek, and vegetable broth instead of water. The soup tasted very similiar. All the substitutions worked fine, except I didn’t think that pinto beans are the right bean for this soup. If I can’t find anasazi maybe next time I’ll try small red beans. Or navy beans maybe?
Note, this soup doesn’t freeze terribly well, mostly because of the barley which ends up with a mushy texture. I’m not saying you can’t freeze it, but the texture is definitely degraded.
Update May 2010: I made this again using anasazi beans. They’re definitely the right bean for the soup. I made a mistake, however. I cut up the white part of the leek for the soup. To add flavor to my vegetable broth, I decided to throw in the rest of the pale to medium green part of the leek in with the beans to cook. I didn’t chop it up, just scored it, washed it and threw it in whole. I figured I’d fish it out when the beans were cooked but before adding the veggies. I hadn’t pre-soaked my beans, and by the time the beans were cooked the leek had totally disintegrated into nasty, stringy bits of goo. Gross. I increased the number of shiitake mushrooms substantially, but still they didn’t have much textural presence in the final soup. Next time I’ll chop them into much bigger pieces. I didn’t have collards or kale, so I threw in some fresh spinach at the very end. It was okay but not really the right flavor for the soup. Plus (since I hadn’t cut it up) it was a bit stringy. By the time the beans were cooked through the soup was quite thick and not very brothy. I had to add more water and still it wasn’t as brothy as I would have liked it.
Serving Size: 1 serving (out of 6 total)
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 2.9g
Saturated Fat 0.4g
Dietary Fiber 6.8g
Vitamin A 25%
Vitamin C 55%