Well hello there! It’s been a while. I hit the pause button for a bit to rebalance after a couple of crazy months, but I’m happy to be back, and it’s about time we get some cookin’ going on up in here! Chilly Februaries are made for satisfying soups and big hunks of sourdough bread to tide us over until we can start tinkering around outside in gardens and traipsing around farmers markets. For me, winter is a time to hole up and cook colorful food and make art ’til it’s time to emerge in the spring. I’ve been doing both of these things in abundance and they are keeping me happy and cozy, so I wanted to share some of this happy coziness today with you in recipe form!
I’ve been holding onto this Cooking Light recipe for a while now, and through the years the photocopied page I keep in my recipe binder has gained a complicated network of chicken scratches and notes. My favorite kind of cooking is off-recipe. Rogue, completely improvised. I’m happiest when I can just go with the flow, using recipes as inspiration, and adding things on a whim, often recording my changes as I go. When people ask me for this recipe, and I show them my cryptic page, they thank me politely and with wide eyes, retreat to try and crack the code. It’s time for me to decipher the code of the Legend of the African Peanut Temple. I won’t be offended in the least if you’re a kindred recipe-rebel like I am and want to send me your own chicken scratch version of your rogue recipe of my rogue recipe.
While the base recipe is solid, there was no spicing. I pride myself as a spice queen of sorts (just look at my obscene spice cabinet). When you can’t rely on no-brainer flavor increasers like dairy, you gotta spice it up to make things interesting. Now, what we have is a thick and chunky but still brothy soup seasoned with plenty of garlic (as is the custom here in the land of Spoon) ginger, coriander, cumin and black pepper.
The potatoes and sweet potatoes keep their shape, but collapse into silky goodness as you eat them, and the roasted peanuts add a little crunch, imparting their roasty flavor to the broth. The crowning glory is the chive sour cream dolloped on top that you swirl through the bowl as you eat. Have you ever made vegan sour cream? This one’s made out of soaked cashews and has a very similar texture and taste to real sour cream. The dairy eaters will never know, and the vegans and dairy-free friends will swoon, I promise!
Now, I offer unto you the deciphered version of this old friend of a soup recipe that has been with me for years! I hope you like it as much as I do!
- 1 cup cashew sour cream (recipe below)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 very large yellow onion, sliced thin and roughly chopped
- 2 medium red bell peppers, diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1 28-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes (regular diced tomatoes work too)
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1½ pounds yukon gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Make the cashew sour cream and stir in the chives. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté for 4-5 minutes until tender but not browned. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two.
- Stir in the peanuts, cumin, ginger, coriander, black pepper crushed red pepper and salt.
- Add the tomatoes, broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about an hour and 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Season with salt to taste. Serve hot, topped with the chive sour cream.
- Slow cooker variation: Sauté ingredients as described above, and add everything up to the spices. Transfer to a slow cooker and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- 1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked 8 hours or overnight
- ¼ cup plus 2 TB fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup water (plus additional if needed)
- 1½ teaspoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup plus 1 TB minced chives
- Drain the soaked cashews, and put them in a blender with the lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast and salt. If it is too thick and won't blend, add additional water, a tablespoon at a time. Blend for about 3-5 minutes until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the edges if needed. Stir in the minced chives. Chill for 2 hours or more (or, in a pinch, put in the freezer for 20 minutes until cold and slightly thickened.