There is a little lovely place in Moscow, Idaho (where I lived for three years) that makes the most surprisingly delicious foods. I say surprisingly, only because the first time I passed it walking down Main Street I had no idea it was a restaurant. But thanks to the guys sipping lunchtime beers outside, I was quickly informed of Mikey's greatness. They are known far and wide for their gyros, but they have a whole array of menu items mostly featuring a greek sampling. I loved their avocado pitas, fresh warm hummus (no other hummus has yet to compare), and falafel salads. But their soups were godly. You had to get there early to even have a chance to down a bowl of whatever the were serving for soup of the day. And of all the vegetarian soups I tried from them, every single one made left me so satisfied and wanting more.
Enter their African Peanut Soup. I was walking by on my way home from class on a cold day and saw just that written on their chalk board as their soup of the day. I had never heard of peanut soup before, but there was no way I was passing up a chance to try it from the soup gods. So I ordered a bowl for lunch and my life was changed forever. It'd be funny if it wasn't true; I dreamed about how good that soup was for weeks. And unfortunately, Mikey's switches up their soups quite often (or fortunately because I got to try so many soups) and I never saw it there again. But I was determined to eat peanut soup again, and often, so I made it myself.
And I do make it all the time. Especially in the winter. It is a bowl of soup that is sure to warm you up completely from the inside out. There is something about the mix of the warm spices and the nuttiness from the peanuts that creates a rather heavenly flavor. And aroma. This will make you house smell so so good and just like Fall. My recipe is quite a bit different from that bowl I had at Mikey's years ago, and it has changed a bit over time, but it is equally delicious. Creamy and comforting, this spicy vegan soup is made from a combination of peanut butter, sweet potato, tomato, red bell pepper and sweet onion.
Peanut Soup, serves 6
5 cups vegetable broth
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large sweet potato, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced (Depending on size/preference. I always use more garlic, and then some.)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes, or two fresh garden tomatoes
3/4 cup (uncooked) brown rice
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup peanut butter (chunky and/or smooth)
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat and add the chopped sweet onion and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until tender and onions are translucent (not browned). Add in the chopped garlic and grated ginger and cook for another minute or two while stirring.
- Turn down the heat to medium and pour in the vegetable broth. Add the brown rice, sweet potato, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Add the chili powder and cumin. Cover and simmer (turning the heat down to low) until brown rice and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir often. To cut down on cooking time, use brown rice cooked ahead of time.
- When the potatoes and brown rice are tender, uncover and turn tho heat down to the lowest possible. Stir in the peanut butter thoroughly with a spoon. Add in the nutmeg and cayenne pepper, then give it a taste test. If it tastes a little bland, add in a bit more cumin, chili powder, and peanut butter.
- Cook for 5 more minutes (or longer) to let the peanut butter thoroughly incorporate into the soup. Serve warm and enjoy. This soup makes great leftovers as well!
+ I like to start the brown rice in a small pot with 1 or 2 cups of water and let it boil on high uncovered while I cut things up and start the soup. I leave it like this until I am ready to add it, pouring it all in. This way the brown rice is mostly done when I add it which cuts down the cook time significantly.
+ I prefer all the veggies chopped pretty finely in this soup. I like them to be noticeable but not too chunky, so that the texture is really smooth and creamy.
+ If you love spicy flavors like me, don’t hesitate to use liberal amounts of ginger, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. They balance nicely with the peanut butter nuttiness and the hint of nutmeg. I always add more of all the spices when the soup is done (after the peanut butter is added) and taste as I go until I feel they are nicely balanced.
+ I like to use 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter and 1/4 cup crunchy (to give it a bit of a crunch). Don't be afraid to add more peanut butter if it doesn't seem creamy/nutty enough.
Everyone I have ever made this soup for has loved it. Celebrate the start of soup season and give it a try and let me know what you think!
P.S. I'm sorry I've been a bit absent this weak. I was sick (and stressed).
P.P.S. This week marked the six month anniversary of Oh Whimsical Me! I can't believe it's been that long already. I'll have something fun and exciting soon to celebrate.
P.P.P.S. I asked a question a few days ago on the OWM facebook page and would love some input from you.