Soup Season is ON
I think the worst thing about January in Michigan is knowing even after we survive it, we still have to deal with February. Would you like some soup? I would like some soup.
I first discovered this recipe sometime during the year or two I ate (mostly) vegan. In many ways, it’s just a standard vegetable soup. It starts with garlic & onion, and then you add some vegetables—it doesn’t really matter what kind. Top with canned tomatoes and enough broth to cover, cook until the veggies are done, season with salt & pepper to taste, and that should be pretty tasty, even if you don’t add anything else. But it’s probably nothing to write
home the internet about.
It’s the three elements in the name that make this something worth sharing—a hefty scoop of cayenne pepper, a couple of tablespoons of minced fresh ginger, and a few heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter. Together, they transform this from just your average vegetable soup into a spicy, hearty, creamy stew. A hint of coconut, which you can get either by sweating the veggies in coconut oil, adding some coconut milk with the nut butter, or garnishing the soup with a sprinkle of unsweetened dried coconut curls adds another layer of flavor and richness, but it’s also great without the coconut.
To make it more filling, I sometimes add potatoes or rice. In this batch, I used sweet potatoes because I think they’re especially nice with ginger, cayenne, and coconut. Sometimes I throw in a bell pepper or some hearty greens. Carrots would be a welcome addition, too. I actually have a hard time thinking of anything that wouldn’t be good in this—cabbage, peas, corn, winter squash, white potatoes. And although I’ve never tried it, I imagine it would also be good with some beans, shredded cooked chicken, or diced ham if you wanted to add more protein or had leftovers hanging around that you wanted to use up.
I usually make a giant batch of this once a year and then freeze it in pint jars or 2-cup screw-top tupperware containers, which usually last me through the winter. However, thanks to the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers—especially Shayne of Fruitcake or Nuts who hosted the swap—this batch got magically transformed into six different kinds of soup:
Clockwise from the top left, that’s Cheddar and Potato with Canadian Bacon (by Bee of Good Food Michigan), Curried Red Lentil Soup (by Mary of A Million Grandmas), a Potato & Sausage soup with lots of fresh dill (by Shayne of Fruitcake or Nuts), my Spicy Ginger Peanut soup, a Corn Chowder with Red and Green Bell Peppers (by Sarah of Una Buona Forchetta), and a Winter Stew with Pork, Beans, & Greens (by Yvonne of Wool and Water).
We tasted them all, along with drinks & bread provided by Shayne and mint chocolate chip cookies from Bee—all of which were delicious—and then filled the containers we’d brought with the leftovers. Kudos to whoever came up with this idea. It would be a great thing to do on a regular basis with a group of friends with similar food preferences/restrictions.
I’ll link to their recipes when/if they post them. Here’s mine:
Recipe: Ginger Peanut Stew (adapted from VegWeb)
makes enough for a crowd, halve or see VegWeb for a smaller amount
- 4 T. coconut oil (or any neutral cooking oil)
- 1 head garlic
- a 2” piece of ginger (about 2 T. minced or grated)
- 2 large onions
- 1 head cauliflower*
- 2 heads broccoli*
- 4 sweet potatoes*
- 5 14-oz cans of diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 6-10 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 t. cayenne (depending on your heat tolerance, you might want to start with 1/2 t. and add more to taste)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter**
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup coconut milk or unsweetened shredded coconut to garnish (optional)
*can substitute any diced vegetable for the cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes; add slow-cooking things like root vegetables and winter squash first; hold back on anything you want to remain tender-crisp
**I prefer crunchy, but creamy will work too; you can also substitute any other nut or seed butter you like.
1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-low heat.
2. Peel and mince or grate the garlic and ginger finely and add them to the oil.
3. Dice the onion and add it to the pot. Stir to coat and let cook while you chop the other vegetables (or, if using pre-chopped or bite sized things, just let them cook for 5-10 minutes until they’re soft).
4. Peel and dice the potatoes, if using, and any other root vegetables or winter squash into 1/2” cubes and add to the onions. Repeat with the cauliflower and broccoli, or whatever else you’re putting in the soup.
6. Add the canned tomatoes with their liquid and the water or stock, using more water or stock if necessary to cover the vegetables.
7. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are all cooked to your liking.
8. Stir in the peanut butter and the coconut milk (if using), and season with salt and pepper to taste.