Living On Food

African Peanut Soup


My opinion of cauliflower was forever altered when I read a comment describing its taste as "slightly nutty." Before then, I had never noticed the nuttiness. Most of my experiences with cauliflower involved cheese, which overpowered its subtle flavor. After that comment, I tried cheese-free cauliflower. To my amazement, I discovered that I preferred it that way. Here I always thought that cheese improved everything, but so far, cauliflower appears to be an exception.

This hearty soup is my all-time favorite to make. The recipe was inspired by the Colophon Cafe's African Peanut Soup. I loved the original but wanted a vegetarian version to share with non-meat-eating friends.

If you don't have a blender, just leave the peanuts intact.


4 cans tomatoes 2 cloves garlic 2 dried red peppers 1 inch ginger 1 vegetarian boullion cube (optional) 2 small cauliflowers 1 small onion 1 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted, with no extra flavorings 1/4 cup butter (for roux) 1/4 cup flour (for roux) 4 cups water butter or olive oil (for frying the onions, optional) black pepper (to taste)

Directions: Coarsely chop the peanuts in the blender. Use the lowest setting and just pulse it a few times. Many will remain intact, some will be cut into small chunks, and a few will be ground fine enough to slightly thicken the soup. If you don't have a blender or food processor, just leave them intact.

Peel and thinly slice the ginger. Chop the garlic and peppers.

I like a mix of crushed tomatoes and chunkier ones. My method is to puree two cans of diced tomatoes in the blender, and leave the other two as is. Alternately, use two cans of crushed tomatoes and two of diced. (We only bother stocking one kind of tomatoes, and I already have the blender out for the peanuts, or I'd mix tomato types myself.) Or, just use crushed tomatoes for the entire amount... Really, it's just a matter of how chunky you like the tomatoes, so do as you will.

Dice the onion. Fry in olive oil with the ginger, and garlic until soft and slightly carmelized. This will give a sweeter taste. However, if you're lazy you can skip this step. I usually skip it; the onions will soften and cook if you heat the soup long enough, and the spices are enough to tame the sharpness you get from not having carmelized them.

Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and set it aside.

Add everything except the cauliflower to the pot, and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook for at least 20 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Prepare and add the roux. (Here's another step you can skip if you are lazy. This soup is actually quite thick just from the volume of cauliflower.)


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