Sopa de Caracol
(Honduran conch and vegetable soup)
Conch (pronounced "conk") is a large sea snail popular as seafood around the Caribbean. The Garifuna people of Honduras' Caribbean coast cook up conch in sopa de caracol, with chopped conch floating in a coconut-scented broth with chunks of tomato, plantain and yuca root.
4 to 6 servings
- Oil -- 3 tablespoons
- Onions, chopped -- 2
- Green bell peppers, chopped -- 2
- Tomatoes, seeded and chopped -- 2 cups
- Water or fish or chicken stock -- 4 cups
- Yuca root (cassava), peeled and cut into chunks -- 1 pound
- Green plantains or bananas, peeled and cut into chunks -- 2
- Carrots, peeled and chopped -- 3
- Conch meat, chopped -- 1 1/2 pounds
- Coconut milk -- 2 cups
- Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions and peppers and saute until the onions are wilted and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes.
- Add the water or stock, yuca, plantains and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through but still firm.
- Stir in the conch meat, coconut milk, cilantro, salt and pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Do not overcook or the conch will get tough.
- Serve hot in large bowls with warm corn tortillas and hot pepper sauce on the side.
Sopa de Caracol Variations
- Conch substitute: Canned conch can often be found in Caribbean and some Central American markets. If you can't find conch, try substituting chopped clams. They have a similar texture and flavor.
- Stock: You can use plain water for your sopa de caracol if you like, but the flavor will be much better if you use basic chicken stock or a fish or seafood stock. Bottled clam juice is a good substitute for homemade seafood stock.
- Sopa marinera (Seafood soup): Use firm-fleshed fish, crab or shrimp instead of the conch.
- Substitute waxy potatoes for the yuca root if you like.