I have long since had a conflict about cow foot. On the one hand I adore the rich beefy broth it makes when you simmer it slowly, but on the other, I don’t like the sticky gelatinous texture of the meat in it. Then I realised that there was nothing to stop me using a cow foot for stock and adding something else to make the soup filling and meaty and so this version was born.
I’ve made meatballs here with beef mince and added them along with sweet potato, carrot and split peas. You could add eddoes, cassava, potato, green banana or yam depending on what you have. Chop some parsley through it all and add some okra and you have the best soup you’ll eat this year. This is cow foot soup for those of a nervous disposition.
Cow foot Soup with Meatballs (serves 4-6)
For the broth
- 1 cow foot
- 4 pints water
- 1 onion
- 2 sticks celery
- 2 carrots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- salt and pepper
For the meatballs
- 500g beef mince
- 75g breadcrumbs
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 50g parsley
- 50g thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper
For the soup
- 250g sweet potato/yam/potato/eddo/green banana, peeled and cubed
- 100g yellow split peas
- 100g okra, chopped in three parts
- fresh parsley to serve
- hot sauce to serve
I know it seems like a lot of ingredients but it’s actually a very simple recipe without anything too tricky. Start by buying your cow foot. I went to Dombey’s in Market Row for mine and I asked them to cut it up for soup. They’ll know what you mean. It came clean and chopped and ready to use with a minimum of hassle.
Place it in a large pot and cover with the water. Add the carrot, onion and celery and garlic. Peel the onion and garlic but just chuck them all in whole as they are for flavouring. Bob the whole scotch bonnet in there for flavour and a bit of a kick. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat falls off the bones. This doesn’t take as long you’d think.
While the stock is simmering, make the meatballs. The best way to stop your meatballs falling apart when you cook them is to use chilled meat to make them and to refrigerate them for at least an hour afterwards. Put the cold beef mince in a large bowl and simply add all the garlic, spices and herbs, chopping the thyme and parsley well. Scatter in the breadcrumbs. I used shopbought but stale bread would work too. Use your hands to start to bring it all together, really working the meat and bread together. Add the beaten egg and mix well until it is almost like a paste.
Wet your hands and pinch off about 35g of the meat with your finger and thumb and just roll it together into a ball, preferably as smoothly as possibly. It all makes sense when you do it. Place each meatball on a plate and keep going until you have used all the mix. You’ll get about 20-25. Put in the fridge and leave to chill again for at least an hour. If you skip this step, they’ll collapse in the soup.
When the stock is a rich yellowy-brown colour and the meat is coming off the bones, scoop the meat and bones out and discard. Remove the flavourings as well and add in the split peas and the chopped vegetables such as the yam or sweet potato. Turn the heat up and cook for about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, gently add the meatballs and the okra and cook on a medium heat for another 25 minutes.
Serve the soup in bowls with about 5 meatballs per person and a good helping of peas, vegetables and broth. Scatter some chopped parsley over it all and some hot sauce if you like a little kick. This soup is hearty and warming and filling and perfect for spring days that still have a slight chill in the air.
To make this in the slow cooker, do the stock with the cow foot on low for 4-5 hours and remove the bones. Return the stock to the crock and then add the chilled meatballs and peas and starchy vegetables and cook for 5-6 hours on low. Add any okra for 30 minutes and serve.