I first fell in love with peanut butter soups twenty-plus years ago when I was in West Africa doing humanitarian work. I was hesitant to try it at first, because peanut butter in soup just sounds, well, weird. But it's not. It's delicious. I honestly didn't think about peanut butter soup for another 15 years until we were out with friends at a local Mediterranean restaurant. A friend of ours ordered his favorite red pepper soup from their menu, which stated it had "hints of peanut". It immediately brought me back to Sierra Leone. I didn't order it because it is made with chicken stock, but I did try a bite of his anyways because I was now inspired to create a vegan version born from my memories of West Africa. And this is what I came up with.
Be prepared to be blown away. Seriously. This soup is that good. And your house will smell like heaven.
First things first, start by roasting the red peppers yourself. Do NOT be lazy and substitute the ones already roasted in a jar. These are a whole different ball game. And they are so easy to roast and a lot less expensive.
Preheat your clean oven to 400 degrees, line a pan and drizzle olive oil over your red peppers. You are going to roast them for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes, until they are all wrinkly and a little charred. Keep the pan away from any open flame if you have a gas oven due to the olive oil popping from the heat.
Remove from the oven and let them cool for about half an hour. The skin should peel right off. I usually use a spoon or small knife to help me de-skin them and remove the core and seeds. Set your newly roasted red peppers aside.
Chop your veggies while the peppers are roasting. Here's my fun little advice for this week's blog: don't be afraid of ginger root. You may not know this but you don't have to buy the whole darn thing at the grocery store. It is perfectly acceptable to snap off a finger of ginger root and just buy a small chunk.
Cut off about an inch of your ginger root and use a knife to peel the skin off and then mince it.
In a large enamel dutch oven (soup pot), saute your onions and carrots with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper for 5 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and ginger root, along with the half a cinnamon stick and your spices and more salt and pepper. Saute this for an additional 2 minutes.
Next chop your roasted red peppers and add them to the pot along with a can of diced tomatoes and 8 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down low and simmer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, stir in 3/4 of a cup of creamy natural peanut butter (try to find with no sugar added), continuing to stir until it has "melted" into the soup.
Now don’t forget fish out and discard the half cinnamon stick before you start blending!
If you have an immersion blender, blend right in your dutch oven. If you have a Vitamix or food processor, make sure you work in at least 2 batches. Ladle out some of your chunky soup into the Vitamix until it is between 1/2 and 3/4 full (don’t fill all the way; it expands!) and blend for maybe 10-15 seconds.
Pour the blended soup into a large bowl to store it momentarily and move on to the next batch. Work this way until you have blended all the soup into a nice creamy mixture. Seriously, this takes less than 5 minutes and blending the soup is what makes this soup so creamy, so don't be a baby about this step. Return the blended soup to your dutch oven pot and reheat before serving.
You now have lightly spicy, bold and creamy roasted red pepper peanut butter soup.
I can't wait for you guys to try this recipe. It's a favorite in our household and among our friends. Make sure you let me know what you think in the comment section below!
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
3 red peppers, roasted (instructions below) and chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. chopped carrots
2 c. chopped sweet onion
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 inch of peeled fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp. ancho chile pepper powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 a cinnamon stick
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
8 c. low sodium or homemade vegetable stock/broth
3/4 c. natural creamy peanut butter (low or no sugar)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast the red peppers in the oven by placing them on a lined pan, drizzled with 1 tbsp. olive oil for 40-45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool for half an hour. You should be able to tear the stem and scoop the seeds out and wipe the skin off with your hand or a pairing knife or spoon. This can be done ahead of time and they peeled roasted red peppers can be stored in your refrigerator for 3-4 days before preparing the rest of the soup. I like to do a big batch and use them in other dishes or freeze.
In a dutch oven pan (enamel covered cast iron) on the stovetop over medium heat, sauté the carrots and onions in 2 tbsp. oil, salt and pepper, for 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, ginger and the spices and sauté another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the diced tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the peanut butter and once it has mostly melted you are ready to turn the heat off and blend. Now don’t forget to discard the half cinnamon stick!
If you have an immersion blender, blend right in your dutch oven. If you have a Vitamix or food processor, make sure you work in at least 2 batches. Ladle out some soup into the Vitamix until it is between 1/2 and 3/4 full (don’t fill all the way; it expands!) and blend. Pour that into a large bowl to move on to the next batch. Work this way until you have blended all the soup into a nice creamy mixture. Return to dutch oven pan and reheat (don’t bring to a boil though) before serving.