Saturday, July 5, 2014

West Pennsylvanian Peanut Soup

Here is the next installment in my search for vegetarian food to serve to potential guests.  I would rank this one a big success – it wasn’t difficult to make, and 3 out of 4 Common Household test subjects liked it.  It was smooth and creamy, without using any cream.  I think it actually qualifies as vegan.

Still Life: Soup with Jif

I am not sure how authentically West African it is, given that I used Jif peanut butter.  The recipe is originally from the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.  The amounts I have given here are half the recipe in the cookbook – my version made about 5 cups of soup.   My version filled the blender entirely, so if you are doubling my amounts, you will have to put it in the blender in batches.

Reactions from the family:
I put a small amount of soup (with just a few chopped scallions) in a bowl at each person’s place, for a taste.

Then I said to my son, “Would you please say a blessing?” 

He said, “A blessing.”  Then we waited and waited, with heads bowed, until finally he said, “Thank you, God, for the food, such as it is, and the peanut soup.”  [See what he did there, classifying the peanut soup as non-food?] He tasted one spoonful, which was enough for him.

Younger Daughter tasted it, and said, “Mmmm!”  But then, “It’s too hot!  Make it less spicy next time…. Did you have to put those vegetables (scallions) in it?” 

My husband tasted it, and said, “Mmmm!”  Another taste and another enthusiastic “Mmmm!” 

I asked, “Is it too spicy?” 

He said, “It’s perfect!”  He did not suggest that I substitute cream of mushroom soup in the recipe, which is a success right there.

Without further ado, the recipe:

West African Peanut Soup

This peanut soup is rich and spicy.  The chopped scallions or chives are an integral element, not just a garnish. 

Makes about 5 cups.  7 WW PointsPlus per cup.

1 cup chopped onion
½ tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
¼ tsp cayenne or other ground dried chilies (or to taste)
½ tsp grated peeled fresh ginger root
½ cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped sweet potatoes (up to ½ cup white potatoes can be substituted)
2 cups vegetable stock or water
* * * * * *
1 cup tomato juice
½ cup smooth peanut butter
½ tablespoon sugar (optional)
½ cup chopped scallions or chives

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

In a blender or food processor, purée the vegetables with the cooking liquid and the tomato juice.  Return the purée to a soup pot.  Stir in the peanut butter until smooth.  Taste the soup.  Its sweetness will depend upon the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes.  If it’s not there naturally, add just a little sugar to enhance the other flavors.
Reheat the soup gently, using a heat diffuser if needed to prevent scorching.  Add more water, stock, or tomato juice for a thinner soup.
Serve topped with plenty of chopped scallions or chives.

Notes:  I used store-bought organic vegetable stock.  I used ground red pepper (cayenne).  I did not add the extra sugar – Jif peanut butter already has sugar in it.

I need to figure out how restaurant servers get
soup in the bowl without slopping it all over the place.


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Your son is a sly one...but I bet I'd like that soup. Such as it is.

Cassi Renee said...

I have made this recipe! I have that same cookbook, and this was one of my favorite recipes, except I didn't blend it --I ate it more as a stew. I also used a processed peanut butter, and I loved it! There are quite a few recipes that I used to make that I don't make since I married a man who is allergic to onions. Some things you just can't do without the onions :-)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

I have bookmarked this page because OH MY GOSH that soup recipe looks good.

Hello, by the way. I'm Cheri. I found you in the comments at Smalltownme, but I see that we have mutual friends in Green Girl and Jen on the Edge (and perhaps others). I was on a blogging break for a while, but now I'm starting to make my way around and find new blogs to read. I can't wait to check out more of your posts.

Alan Hodesblatt said...

Fine dining restaurants clean the sides of the soup bowl with a clean towel before they bring it out -- that's how it looks so good.

See you in a few weeks!

Angie said...

This sounds really good! I'm going to try it.

The Crislers said...

This looks delicious! Now I just need you to post it again in the fall when I'm craving soup and spice. Orrrr I could just bookmark it.

Alison said...

That looks absolutely amazing!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I have had peanut soup in Virginia, which was very good in small amounts (rich stuff!) so I imagine this would be good, too.
Younger kids can be picky. My 14yo isn't thrilled with pumpkin soup but I love it.
Did OD not try this soup?

Common Household Mom said...

@Karen - it is pretty rich, but probably not as rich as if it were made with cream.

OD was not home at the time, but did try it after I posted this. She tried it cold, and didn't like it too much. :-(