Sunday, February 2, 2014

African Peanut Soup

With the polar vortex and general despair over the bone-chilling weather since the beginning of the year, I've wanted to eat nothing but soup. The first one I made was this African Peanut Soup, which I first tried at my friend Melissa's soup party in December. Since 1993, Melissa and her husband Stephen have been hosting this party. The party was a lot of fun and the soups were all really delicious, but it's the charity component that is the most impressive. Guests are asked to bring a donation for the Greater Pittsburgh
Community Food Bank. This past December they had 262 guests and raised more than $4,000 for the Food Bank!

I'm just getting back to blogging so didn't take pictures, but trust me--this soup is amazing! It's not overly peanuty and doesn't have sweet potatoes that are in a lot of African soups (and which I'm not a huge fan of). It's just really delicious. Here's the recipe, and see my notes at the end.

African Peanut Soup

Serves 8
The recipe was found in the November 1994 issue of Vegetarian Times and is copied from the Big Soup blog. Enjoy.

  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 2 large red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 to 3 large garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. Canola oil
  • 28 oz. can tomatoes with juice, chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (bouillon is best--see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup uncooked short-grain rice
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (non-natural is best--see notes)
  • chopped roasted peanuts
  1. In a large soup pot, sauté onions, bell peppers, and garlic in oil until onions begin to brown around the edges, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and juice, broth, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat about 15 minutes.
  3. Add rice, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Add the peanut butter; whisk until smooth. Heat to a simmer and serve immediately, garnished with chopped roasted peanuts.
  1. When I made this, I thought it didn't taste like the soup at the party. I thought Melissa's tasted better. I brought it into work for her to taste, and she confirmed it tasted different. We concluded that it was the difference in the broth and peanut butter. I used store-bought ready-made broth, and Melissa used Knorr vegetarian bouillon cubes. I used a natural style of peanut butter, and Melissa used Jif. If you make this, use bouillon and a non-natural style of peanut butter.
  2. I don't like cooked bell pepper and considered leaving them out. But I liked the soup so much at Melissa's party, I decided to leave one in. I didn't taste the pepper at all (which is good for me.) 
  3. I used long-grain rice, and it was fine.
  4. Melissa's soup was much thicker than mine. She said she let it simmer a lot longer than the recipe calls for, so I'll do that next time. 

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