I’ve said it many times and it’s worth repeating: you can judge a cook by their soups and roast chicken, because they’re all about soul, and you can’t fake that.
My Mother puts down some serious soup. She learned from my Grandmother, who had to stretch ingredients during hard times and coax flavor from small amounts, if any, of meat.
There is nothing more satisfying to my Mom – who had very little to eat for several years as a child in Dresden, particularly proteins and fats – than having unlimited access to whole chickens, short ribs, bacon, marrow bones and the like. As a result, her soups are rich and savory, and I don’t think I ever saw one that was not chock full of meat. Even her split pea and bean soups are loaded with smoked ham hocks.
Since the heavy and hearty soup universe is covered by my Mother, who cooks Mondays for all of us, I tend toward quicker, lighter soups that don’t quality as a full meal. I recently had an African peanut soup that was amazing, so I came up with a variant to serve to the boys, and they loved it. It’s quick, easy, and frugal, so I hope you’ll give it a try.
The only pesky thing is that you’ll need an immersion (aka hand/stick) blender. You could certainly use a regular blender, but it’d be a pain as you’d have to work in batches. Invest the $20-odd in an immersion blender.
West African Peanut Soup
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
10 ounces decent carrots, peeled, medium dice
1 large shallot, minced
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (make it a heaping half-cup)
Garnish of your choosing. Suggestions: chopped peanuts; a little crumbled Gorgonzola; browned sage butter; caramelized orange peel
1). Put everything except peanut butter in large, heavy-gauge, pot and bring to a boil.
2). Reduce heat, bring to low simmer and allow to cook for 40 mins.
3). Turn off flame and puree (safely and carefully!) until veggies are broken up but not smooth.
4). Add peanut butter and puree until as smooth as you like, but certainly until peanut butter is well incorporated.
5). Adjust seasonings.
6). Ladle into serving bowls and garnish.