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Food Roots and Cassava Soup Recipe

I have just had the incredible opportunity to spend several weeks in Brazil, mainly in the north. 

By Emma Lupin

Like Australia, Brazil is vast and, amongst the huge diversity and difference, wildlife and nature, development issues, amazing music, dancing and wonderful people, there are some similarities that can be drawn.

In the north we share a tropical climate, which of course means many food plants  – and a huge favourite is cassava.

Known as tapioca in Brazil it is essentially the same plant. Many varieties are grown and made into a huge variety of breads, soups and other dishes. A lot of blended soups are found, often with tamarind and shrimp. 

Cassava is a root vegetable that can easily be grown (especially in the Wet season, when it hopefully rains more!) and can also be bought at local markets.

You can use it in soups as a base and come up with your own additions to create flavour and balance. It is really lovely to eat this comforting soup in monsoon rains, when they happen.

This recipe is inspired by these thick soups found in Brazil, but includes an eclectic mix of spices that can be grown here in the Top End.

Blended Spicy Cassava Soup 

3 medium sized cassavas  
(about 1.2 kg) 
2 onions, diced 
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
4cm ginger, grated
1cm turmeric, grated
Thai coriander & Thai basil, cut Wet season garden greens (eg. sweet potato leaf and sweet leaf) Hot sauce or 1 finely chopped  fresh chilli
Large pinch of salt
Juice of 4 limes or 2 tbsp  tamarind paste
200ml coconut milk
2 litres vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive or rice bran oil
Salt and pepper 

Cut the cassava in small cubes (do not include the darker centre part of the root) and boil until tender, but firm. 

Brown the onion, add the ginger, garlic, basil and coriander (leaving some for garnish), oil, salt, pepper and hot sauce/chilli. 

Add the stock and boil for 10 minutes. Add the cassava, lime juice, tamarind and greens and boil for 10 minutes.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then add the coconut milk. Remove the lumps using 
a hand blender and serve with chopped coriander or basil.

Emma Lupin is a tropical plant specialist and local food enthusiast with passions for native habitat conservation and sustainable living. She is an environmental educator, community engager and encourages connection to the beautiful natural world, particularly our tropical home. | @tasteofthetopend

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