Unlike the Passover seder, Tu B’Shvat celebrations have been a little less codified. There’s the general appreciation of trees (it is the new year for trees, after all) and vegetation. There’s definitely wine drinking (four glasses, similar to Passover). But there’s no totally standard haggadah, and certainly no eating rules that can even compare to our leaven-less spring fling.
However, what it is is a celebration of all the tasty fruits from the earth, falling into four convenient to remember buckets:
- Fruit that is hard on the outside but soft on the inside, like coconuts, walnuts, or almonds.
- Fruit that is soft with a pit in the center (stone fruits); olives, peaches, cherries, apricots, and so on.
- Fruit that is soft all the way through, or completely edible – strawberries are a great choice for this one, as are figs and grapes
- And finally, fruit that is tough on the outside and soft on the inside, like bananas, avocados, and mangoes.
A dish my friend Amy told me that she’s made is a delicious banana soup with as many of the other kinds of fruits in it as she can reasonably include. I’m going to draw the line a little closer, including fruits from three of the four groups (drink some wine with it to round it out), but the idea of a savory banana-coconut soup with peach salsa as an accent sounds like the perfect way to start your Tu B’Shvat meal to me – if nothing else, you’ll probably have all the ingredients on hand to use as part of your seder!
Have fun with this – swap ingredients, add others, try different spices. Banana soup is so unusual, I doubt anyone will question your choices.
Savory Banana-Coconut Soup with Peach Salsa
1 peach, diced small
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/2 fresh jalepeno, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger (jarred is fine and extremely convenient)
1 Tbsp canola or coconut oil
1/2 medium white or yellow onion, minced
1 tsp or 2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 ripe bananas, sliced into coins
1-15oz can coconut milk (not cream)
8 Cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste (figure around 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper)
1-3 tsp green curry paste or 1/2-1 tsp cayenne powder, depending on desired spiciness (optional)
- Start by making the peach salsa; combine the first four ingredients (through the ginger) and season to taste. Refrigerate to allow the flavors to blend while you prepare the soup.
- In a large soup/stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper, and cook until they are nearly translucent. Add the garlic, coriander, nutmeg, and bananas, and cook another 2-4 minutes (don’t let the garlic burn), stirring frequently.
- Add the coconut milk and cook another 5 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth (and the curry paste or cayenne if you’re including it) and bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer; cook 20-30 minutes. The bananas should be mushy and nearly falling apart.
- Using an immersion blender (or working in batches with a blender), puree the soup to a smooth consistency.
- Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with the peach salsa (a drizzle of cilantro oil would be superb at this point too!)
For more information on Tu B’Shvat, I really like this article at MyJewishLearning.com because it’s so straightforward. If you need resources on how to host your own Tu B’Shvat seder, including an awesome haggadah with a leader’s guide, Hazon has got you covered.