WHAT is a mandioca? I tried to ask my easily excitable verdulerera, and she babbled off an answer in heavily accented Bolivian Spanish. I can never understand her. I looked at the light brown, furry tuber and tried to understand it. It looked like a lab accident combination of a potato and a kiwi. I bought one and went home to ask Google.
Mandioca is known as Manioc in English, however that didn’t make it any more familiar for me. I learned that this shrub is native to sub-tropical South America and the starchy origin of tapioca and a member of the Euphorbiaceae family.
Hey Mom and Dad, I guess that classical education paid off:
- Eu – Greek, good
- Phor – Greek, to carry, bear
- Euphorbia – a genus of plants, named for Euphorbus, doctor of Juba II
- Ceae – first declension, vocative plural.
What my verdulerera didn’t mention, is that mandioca is toxic and contains cyanide, and may cause paralysis if prepared improperly. Suddenly my soup recipe became a dangerous adventure and I contemplated the pros and cons of preparing a plant that is unfit for human consumption in its raw form. I asked myself ‘what would Anthony Bourdain do?’, and decided to throw caution to the wind and risk be poisoned all for the sake of this blog post and for the maintenance of my culinary anthropologist pipe dream.
To properly prepare a mandioca, peel it and slice down the middle, then boil in salt water for 30 minutes until it has the consistency of a boiled potato. The taste is mild and slightly sweet. Added to the soup it acted as a thickener and made no noticeable impact on the flavor.
This soup is a very hearty vegetarian stew. The kidney beans and beets give it a beautiful red color, and dulcoration of the coconut, tomato and ginger makes it the perfect recipe for colorful Fall days with just the slightest sunny remnant of summer sweetness. Serve with mashed avocado for a creamy compliment.
- 1 Cup Kidney Beans
- 1 Cup Coconut Milk
- 1/4 Cup Tomato Paste
- 3 cups of water (or more depending on preferred consistency and cooking temperature/time)
- 2 Beets, Boiled and Chopped
- 1 Yellow Onion, Diced
- 1 Mandioca, Boiled and Chopped
- 2 Tomatoes
- Garlic to taste.
- Ginger to taste.
- Sea Salt
- Soak the beans. It is best to do this in cold water overnight. In a bowl, cover the beans with ample amounts of water and allow them to sit on the counter overnight. Rinse and set to simmer in a large pot with two cups of water.
- Peel the mandioca and boil in salt water until tender, for 30 minutes or so. Remove and dice.
- Peel the beets and boil until tender, for 20 minutes or so. Remove and dice.
- Saute the onions and garlic until they become translucent.
- Add the tomato paste, coconut milk and spices to the beans and let simmer for a few minutes to fully absorb the flavors.
- Add the beets, mandioca, tomatoes and onions to the soup and keep covered on low heat for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Using a hand masher or blender, mash soup to preferred consistency. Enjoy.