Curried peanut soup. I served it for my very first dinner party. I was in my early twenties, new to Seattle, and I invited my new friends Debra and Allan over. I lived in a studio apartment and didn't own a dining room table, but my kitchen had a built in breakfast nook that comfortably accommodated two, and could fit three in a cozy way.
When I started flipping through the three cookbooks I owned to plan a menu, I came across this recipe, and knew instantly that I had hit the jackpot. Allan has a weakness for peanut butter. He used to talk about hiding his peanut butter jar from himself (not sure how that worked) to avoid snacking on it. He still sometimes brings up this soup in a daydreamy sort of way.
Curried Peanut Soup
from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen
This is a hearty soup, intended to be a main course. Between prep and cooking time it takes close to 2 hours to make, most of it simmering time. Everything can be done in advance; just add the buttermilk after reheating, just before serving.
1 Tbs butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 large cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped raw peanuts
1/4 tsp each: cinnamon, cloves, ground cardamon or coriander
1/2 tsp each: dry mustard, turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
In a large saucepan, saute the first five items together over for a few minutes over medium heat, until the onion begins to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and saute another 8-10 minutes over medium-low heat, until the onion is well cooked.
Next, mash the following ingredients into a smooth paste:
2 cups stock or water
1/2 cup natural (unsweetened) peanut butter
a handful of raisins (optional)
1 Tbs honey
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne
Add this to the above saute, mix and cover. Simmer over very low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Whisk 1 1/2 cups buttermilk into the hot soup just before serving.
2 fairly green bananas
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbs butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
dash of salt
1 Tbs sesame seeds
Peel the bananas and thinly slice them on the diagonal. Place them in a shallow bowl with the lemon juice for 10 minutes.
Heat the butter in a heavy skillet. Add the bananas plus all their lemon juice, and sprinkle with the salt, spices and sesame seeds.
Saute, gently turning and stirring, for 5-8 minutes over medium-low heat. (It's ok if the bananas lose their shape.)
Spoon a few pieces of the banana topping into each individual bowl of soup. According to the recipe, 'Your mouth may attain enlightenment'. Allan and I would have to agree.
Yield: 4-5 large servings