Wednesday, January 20, 2010

West African Peanut Soup

As the bowl of soup appeared before me, I heard the word "peanut." My first thought was, "No way. Not gonna like that." And was a little frightened, frankly. But one taste and I was converted. Completely. Granted, this was more than 20 years ago, but I do get that the idea of peanuts + soup is not something that most people would automatically put together. But my plea would be to give this one a whirl. It's delicious.

I hadn't made it in quite some time, but saw a version of it somewhere online and was reminded me how much I missed it! I did quite a bit of online looking around for recipes, but when push came to shove, I went back to the original that I've always made from Sundays at Moosewood. And it turned out as lovely as it always has.

West African Peanut Soup
Serves 6-8

2 cups chopped onion
1 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. cayanne or other ground dried chiles (I used tubed chile paste)
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger (again, I also used the tube ginger)
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped sweet potatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups tomato juice (I use V8)
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp. sugar (optional--I never add this)
1 cup chopped scallions or chives (garnish, also optional)

Saute the onions in the oil until translucent. Stir in the cayenne and fresh ginger. Add the carrots and saute a couple more minutes. Mix in the potatoes and stock, bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

In a blender or food processor, puree the vegetables with the cooking liquid, tomato juice and peanut butter. Return the puree to a soup pot and taste for sweetness. Add sugar if desired and reheat slowly. (I also taste for heat. If it needs a bit more, add a touch of chile/cayenne.) Also according to preference, add more stock or tomato juice for a thinner soup. Serve topped with scallions or chives.

I served this soup today over white rice. I got that idea from one of the online recipes... it was only OK, in my humble opinion. I get how that might be a worthy idea, but the soup itself is so tasty on its own, I don't think it needs anything added.

Side note: I do have to say that white rice is like crack, man (not that I know, of course...). I haven't had white rice in ages (we're a brown rice family) and it was quite yummy--I made a little bowl with sugar, cream and currants after lunch and boy-oh-howdy that took me back to some rice puddin' days. Maybe I'll post on that a bit later... if there's any rice left to take a picture of!

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