~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Monday, June 20, 2011

Senegalese Peanut Soup...

Senegalese Peanut Soup... I had plenty of opportunity to eat Romanian food while growing up... hardly ever had any other cuisine. Granted the Romanian cuisine is a conglomeration of a few other European cuisines, but mainly it's composed of simple dishes without too many spices involved. My mom cooked traditional dishes... all from scratch...and she was excellent at it. But when we kids started growing up, we sort of gave mom ideas:)... hamburgers came along, then burritos with homemade salsa.... then lasagna ... along with Friday night homemade pizza and every so often American donuts:). And when my oldest sister came home from her college dorm on the weekends.... she introduced us to the sushi rolls. My mom adapted quite easily...and oftentimes let us experiment in the kitchen. I remember my oldest brother making caramelized apple strudels in the skillet with.... tortillas of all things. They were incredibly delicious! In any case, we never ventured out to use any of the strong spices in our cooking. Spices such as cumin, curry powder, garam masala were foreign to us....and sweet and sour was never a combination found at home. So when I got married, I stuck pretty much to the basics when cooking...and really never introduced those spices in the dishes I made. But then I started slowly adding cilantro...and over the years it has become a favorite. Then I introduced cumin...and slowly worked up to different spices found in garam masala and curry powder.
When I first saw the Senegalese peanut soup, I immediately knew I wanted to make it... especially since I enjoy trying out new recipes from all over the world. I figured we love the Chicken Tikka Masala... and this soup would be similar. Should I try it, should I not....didn't exactly know how the peanut butter would play out in the soup. I was curious and kept thinking about the soup... for several days.
I finally took my chance and forged ahead in making it. I chose to keep it simple the first time around... no meat... and only a few basic vegetables. I usually don't have peanuts in the house, so I bought some roasted and salted peanuts... ended up making my own peanut butter and liked the ability to control the texture.
I have to say that my husband had 2 bowlfuls of this "soup"! I did make his favorite rice to go along:)... but the soup was so delicious... and it smelled just wonderful while it was cooking. The spices were just right... not too strong, not to mild. And you really don't miss the meat.
I loved the simplicity of this soup... a one-pot dish. It can be a wonderful dinner option.... transporting you to a different part of the world without ever leaving your home. I am so glad I tried this soup... definitely will be making it again. Hope you enjoy...

Tips: If you don't want to use canned coconut milk, you can opt to make your own version: Soak 1 cup of unsweetened shredded dry coconut in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes. Pour in a blender and blend the coconut and water until smooth. Strain through a nut-milk bag or cheese cloth....you may or may not need to use all of it(it probably won't have the same thickness as when using canned coconut milk...but it's a thought).
~ Fresh garden tomatoes will also probably work instead of the canned... but I would probably add a bit of tomato paste just to intensify the tomato flavor.
~You can add all sorts of other vegetables to the soup...potatoes(sweet or regular), chickpeas, peas, squash, etc...and/or any meat/seafood you like....feel free to add some grated ginger as well.
~ While I left my soup chunky...you can also use an immersion blender and blend some or most of the vegetables...or opt to use crushed tomatoes rather than diced.

You will need: inspired by The Traveler's Lunchbox
Serves: about 6 people

2 tablespoons oil( you could easily use coconut)
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped( I used red)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro(stems and leaves)...I used 2 TBS dried
2 large carrots, chopped
cayenne pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 1/3 cups chicken stock
2 (14oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter*
1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste
* you can use store-bought..or you can make your own

Top with:
Chopped peanuts
Chopped cilantro leaves
Chopped chives(optional)
Sliced hot pepper(optional)

Serve with:
cooked rice
cooked lentils

1. If making your own peanut butter, add about 1 1/4 cups of roasted peanuts in a food processor. Process until mixture comes together in a ball...1-2 minutes ... or until you see that the peanuts have turned into a paste. Set aside...
2. Heat the oil in a large pot over med heat.

3. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper. Cook until the onion has softened and turned golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the carrots, cayenne, cilantro, and curry powder.

4. Fry until the spices are fragrant, about a minute more.

5. Add the stock and tomatoes...and all the tomato juice. Stir well and bring to a boil.

6. Lower the heat and let cook gently until the vegetables soften some more.... about 20 minutes. Remember to stir it occasionally.

7. Add the peanut butter and coconut milk. Whisk it to thoroughly combine.
8. Continue cooking until the soup has thickened... about another 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning... with salt and pepper. If you would like to add some cooked meat you can do so
in this step... you can do the same with fresh shrimp and fish, though that won't take too long to cook so add it in the last couple of minutes or so.

9. Serve hot alongside or on top of the cooked grain of choice...top with chopped peanuts, cilantro and chives/chiles.


Jennifurla said...

eating at your house sounds like it was always fun, I think we always ate the same thing every week. This looks so nice.

Ashleyta said...

I have a cup of coconut milk left over from making your delicious coconut cupcakes...I've been racking my brain how to use it and now I have the answer! This soup sounds delicious w/ some of my favorite tastes: coconut, peanut and curry...yum! Thanks for posting this recipe =)

Speranta said...

Ellie,cred ca este delicioasa soup...Sunt tentata sa o incerc!!

Multumesc pentru reteta.
Sa ai o zi binecuvantata...

Mihaela said...

Ellie, I like this soup and I am very curious how it tastes like with the peanuts, I think the peanut butter gives it a really nice flavor. I would like to give it a try, I like to try new thigs, as you probably know :)

megi said...

Ellie, it's really hot outside but I doubt I can wait a few months before trying this soup, looks so good and I have all the ingredients including homemade peanut butter, I am looking forward to trying it. Thank you!

Ellie said...

Jennifurla, Yes, we had fun when we could...school seemed to always get in the way:). I am hoping you can try the soup, and thanks for stopping by.

Ashleyta, Oh,I am glad I could be of help:). I hope you can give it a try...we really enjoyed it, even as leftovers. I am really wanting to make it with some seafood next time. Thanks for stopping by...and have a great day!

Speranta, Supa este usoara de facut si poti sa pui mai putin din "curry powder" daca nu iti place. Dar este foarte interesanta:)

Mihaela, The peanut butter really gives the soup a wonderful flavor... you can always adjust the amounts of peanut butter, coconut milk, and even curry powder to taste. My husband said the soup reminded him of some of the Thai dishes he used to eat. I am hoping you will like it:). Have a great week!

Megi, We have been having some chilly/rainy weather, so I've taken advantage of making hot dishes:). I am hoping you will like the dish when you try it...even if later on during the year:). Have a great day!

Ashleyta said...

I made the soup today and EVERYBODY loved it...even Mom who is, as you well know, v. anti-cilantro and anti-curry :) Rodica finally tried some after everyone raved about it and she said it was "foarte bun"! I appreciate you saying that Paul had double portions...it helped me decide to take my chances even though it had some "risky" ingredients...Unfortunately, Lydia heard about the PB and refused to try it :( Your blog is a huge blessing when I'm stuck for ideas as to what to cook =)

Ellie said...

Ashleyta, I am SO VERY PROUD of you for trying out the soup!! YAY!! Glad it was received so well...and it even surprised me as well:).
You simply made my day this morning:)... so sweet of you to let me know. I shared your comment with Paul and he kept smiling:)... I think he was excited that Mom liked it as well:)!
He said that when the various components/ingredients get combined together... the flavors meld and aren't so powerful as when eaten alone.
So glad it was a success...I appreciate your sweetness in taking the time to let me know... and for your kind words:).
Have a great day, Ashley!

Indian Recipe Book said...

hey looking yummy...i have never tried it, sure to try it out soon nice recipe

Ellie said...

Indian Recipe book, Hope you can give it a try. We really enjoyed it! And, thanks for stopping by.