Thursday, October 27, 2011

Curried Peanut Soup

Curried peanut soup. I served it as the entree for my very first dinner party. I was in my early twenties, new to Seattle. I invited some of the first friends I made upon moving here, Debra and Allan, to join me for dinner in my studio apartment on Capitol Hill. I didn't own a dining room table, but the kitchen had a built in breakfast nook that comfortably accommodated two and could fit three in a cozy way. It didn't feel crowded. These two are fun and entertaining (they're actors!) and comfortable.

Allan is quite a chef. From him I learned about Cook's Illustrated, toasting nuts to bring out their flavor, and making my own croutons. He was the first person I met for whom food was a topic of conversation. I enjoyed many a fine meal at their table before my first experience hosting them, so I wanted to make something special. When I started flipping through the three cookbooks I owned at the time and came across this recipe, I knew it would be a safe bet. It was. Allan has a weakness for peanut butter. He used to talk about hiding the jar from himself (not sure how that worked) to avoid snacking on it. Years later, he still sometimes brings up this soup and that meal in a daydreamy sort of way.

It's a hearty soup, intended to be a main course. Between prep time 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.

Curried Peanut Soup
from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen

The Soup:

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.

The Topping:

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


Tammie said...


Francesca said...

we love anything curried here - though I would have to add a little chili pepper for my spicy-hot food lovers!

thisfriendlyvillage said...

This post and your last post brought back some really special memories of when I first moved to Seattle at about the same age! I was fresh out of college and poor but I sure loved the city and what it had to offer.....good interesting food and people.....and Grrenlake!

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

This looks really good, Lecia. I like the green banana topping.

likeschocolate said...

Looks amazing!

KPiep said...

Sounds yummy!

heathashli said...

Yes, thanks to Cook's Illustrated, my mashed potatoes are never starchy & my deviled eggs are perfectly done! I love that they offer scientific reasons for cooking or mixing things a certain way!

Because of Cook's I always toast my nuts & rolled oats before making anything, even if I'm using a recipe from somewhere else that doesn't call for it.