Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup

There was this little café near the river. We used to walk there hand in hand.  We visited often. There were freshly picked flowers on the table and room for about 30. At night, candles flickered and glowed.


Their menu was concise and ever changing with the season. But the one constant was their focus on surprising (and tasty) soups.

It was there where our creative minds, which constantly bounce with ideas, found comfort and groundedness as we sat peacefully over two bowls of steamy soup.

Peanut Soup-8

I think about that space in time often…

how there always seemed to be just one perfect table by the window waiting for us…

how the café’s size was intimate but its energy expansive….

and how the dining space was full of soft chatter and the tantalizing aroma of complex simmering soups.

While the café still remains by the river and ideas continue to fill up our heads, physically we’ve moved on.  But this week, my mind took me back there, to snowy Vermont.  And with those thoughts came cravings for soup. Flavorful spicy soup made with whole foods.

Peanut Soup-2

So I pulled out this little gem of a recipe from Cookie + Kate and cooked it with love.

Peanut Soup-4

This week, I hope you’ll take time to enjoy a quiet night with this simple soup with spicy notes… inspired by a little café called That’s Life Soup.


Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup
{adapted from a recipe from Cookie + Kate, original recipe from Local Bounty: Vegan Seasonal Recipes}
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch collard greens, ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch strips
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste, or 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • Hot sauce, like sriracha (AKA rooster sauce)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
  1. In a medium stock pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and salt. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1 to 2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl. Whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well.Peanut Soup-7
  3. Stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce to taste. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.
  4. Serve over cooked brown rice if you’d like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.
Peanut Soup-14
Until we simmer with spice again,

Homemade Veggie Potstickers

He loves to teach. Go ahead. Ask him a question. He’ll show you how. A hand drawn illustration almost always is included.

Trust me. I know.

Over dinner at Mizu, I asked about potstickers… “how they’re made”, “what’s his technique”, yada yada

The following night he had me elbow deep in potsticker dough. The time: midnight.

creating dough for potstickers

Like I said he never just tells. He loves to teach. Luckily I love to learn.

So about those potstickers…

1. They are a bit time-consuming to prep but super freaking easy to make. You could use pre-made potsticker wrappers but we made a simple dough from scratch using the ratio below.

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of boiling water

hand stir until the mixture forms into a round ball that will be smooth

creates roughly 30 potsticker rounds

2. When rolling out your dough, be sure to make your dumpling rounds large enough to fill and properly close without tearing. It might be worth testing out a few sample sizes to see what works best for you. We went with about a 4-inch diameter.

Rolling Dough_Veggie Potstickers

3. The filling options are endless. We’re trying to back off of meat a bit (after our holiday meatapolloza here and here) so we went veggie. We had cabbage and carrots in our fridge so we used that as our base and lightly braised with ginger, shitakes, spinach, onions and some of Nathan”s ‘light you up’ dried peppers from Shore Farms.

filling for veggie potstickers

3. Did you know that the name potsticker stems from their cooking technique? They literally stick to the pot. To cook you first fry them lightly in a liberally oiled pan until the bottoms brown. Next water is added to the pan (Be careful! Expect some sizzling commotion!). You’ll need to cover to steam the tops while you also release the sticky bottoms from the pan.

searing potstickers

seared potsticker

5. Feel free to freeze. You can quick freeze them separately on parchment paper on a sheet pan if you do not need (or immediately devour) the entire batch. Be sure that they do not touch in the freezer, and once frozen solid, place in a freezer bag for safe keeping. They’re perfect for entertaining at the last minute or for sneaking out for a late-night snack… like I do.

Until we stick and steam again,


Savoring The Season

Hey guys. Pardon our absence. It’s December and in the catering world it’s “no sleep ’til Christmas”.  Yes indeed – the holiday feasting season is in full swing.

Salmon Platter

Bibb Lettuce Mandarin Oranges Goat Cheese Cranberries & Housemade Balsamic

Short Ribs over soft polenta, confit tomatoes & grilled eggplant

Harrison and I have this agreement each December: He is responsible for staying awake and keeping himself alive during the non-stop prepping, prepping, prepping, setups, setups, setups, cooking, cooking, cooking, shift after shift after shift.

harrison and charles

In exchange, I try to keep our holiday spirit alive after work on the home front with lots of twinkling lights, hodge podge decorating, presents wrapped under the tree, non-stop playing of Norah Jones Christmas, and this year, an endless supply of freshly baked treats.

batter for devils food cake cookies

This year’s baking frenzy began with my friend T-Bone’s annual Christmas Cookie Exchange….

Christmas Cookie Exchange Party

Christmas Cookies Exchange Party

And I have been covered in powdered sugar and ‘licking the spoon’ late into the night ever since.

baking devils food cake cookies

There’s just something calming about baking, you know? And in the middle of this hectic time it’s nice to find time to just slow down and savor the season.

devils food cake cookie sandwiches

These days, here is the cookie we love eating the most…
Devils Food Cake Cookie Sandwiches


For the cookies
(GASP! Yes this recipe calls for a boxed mix but you can always make your own from scratch)
•    2 packages devil’s food cake mix
•    4 eggs
•    2/3 cup vegetable oil

For the frosting
•    1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
•    1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, room temperature
•    3 cups powdered sugar
•    1 tsp almond extract

For the cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place all ingredients into large bowl and beat with electric mixer until well blended. Batter will be stiff.
  • Form batter into small balls, place onto baking sheet and flatten slightly.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting

  • Place cream cheese and butter into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add almond extract.
  • Place frosting onto one cookie and then place another cookie on top of the frosting to form a sandwich.

devils food cake cookie sandwiches

Fresh warm cookies. Ice cold milk. Midnight chats.  Those are our simple pleasure these days. What are yours?

Until we share late-night treats again,