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.
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Until we simmer with spice again,

How To Make Hearty Veggie Chili with Cheese

There are tastes that seem to spark the official change of season in our minds.  The bite of a fresh juicy strawberry in summer, the warmth of hot apple cider in the fall and for me, it’s the return of  hearty chili in the winter that propels me to pull out the toboggans, cozy socks and well, phone my dad. 

Growing up, I remember sitting side by side with him on cold Saturdays eating bowl after bowl of spicy chili and cheese cheering on the Michigan Wolverines. I was his lanky, curly-headed championship chili eating sidekick and to this day it still makes me smile when he calls to say he’s putting on the first pot of the year.

Lucky for me I just so happened to have married a man who appreciates what a big ol’ pot of chili means to me.  Last weekend, as Harrison and I sat eating hot bowls of chili watching Michigan football (beat OSU…yahoo…GO BLUE), my heart warmed with thoughts of my dad and feeling lucky to have a husband who gives me that same simple comfort each day. 

So today, while Harrison is away (at Harvard for a Ferran Adrià lecture and dinner… seriously… can I join culinary school?), I am heating up a bowl of this chili with cozy socks with that third guy in my life, Turtle, by my side.

Let’s let loose on some hearty veggie chili, shall we?

Base ingredients: tomatoes, lentils and kale.


  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic chick peas (aka garbanzo beans)
  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic cannelloni or white beans
  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic red kidney beans
  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic sweet corn
  • (1) 24 oz. can of organic green beans (thanks to Harrison’s Yaya for sending us beans from her garden!)
  • 8 oz. of lentils (green or red)
  • (2) 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes (typically roma or plum)
  • (3) medium onions, fine diced
  • (6) – (8) garlic cloves, fine diced
  • (1) carrot, fine diced
  • (4) jalapenos, thinly julienned (strips)
  • (1) bunch of kale  (purple or green), rough chopped
  • (1) medium sweet potato, fine diced (we used local garnet yams)
  • (3/4) cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • (1/8) cup of fresh oregano, chopped
  • (2) Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • (4) bay leaves
  • (8) cups of water

Now that's a beautiful countertop.

Dry Seasonings:

  • (2) and (1/4) Tablespoons of Kosher salt + pepper to taste
  • (2) and (1/2) Tablespoon of ground cumin
  • (1) Tablespoon of paprika
  • (4) Tablespoons of chili powder (or 1/2 cup)
  • (2) teaspoons of dried oregano
  • (1) teaspoon of dried thyme

I once made "chili" for Harrison without chili powder. I thought hot sauce would fill in just fine. I have since learned that those key spices are what makes chili, chili. Lesson #345 learned.


1.  Rinse all of your canned beans and combine together.

2.  Saute your onions and garlic in EVOO in a large pot on medium heat for approx. 8 – 10 minutes (or until your onions start to show color and sweat down)

3.  Add your jalapeno, fresh oregano, carrots, and sweet potatoes and saute for 3 – 4 minutes.

There is something about the smell of sautéed onions and garlic that just makes us smile.

4.  Next, add your dry seasonings (EXCEPT salt) and continuously stir for one minute.

Here comes the flavor.

5.  Add your water, tomatoes, beans, and salt. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In go the tomatoes

Beans, beans the magical fruit...

Add your water gradually.

Looking good now.

6.  After 20 minutes, add your kale, corn and lentils and then let simmer for another hour and a half on medium low (length of time depends on how firm you want your lentils).

Last but not least...

Mmmm .... eat more kale.

7.  Add your cilantro and cook another 15 minutes or so.

8.  Then, check all ingredients to ensure they are cooked to correct tenderness.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

Who's ready for chili?

9.  And FINALLY, ladle out a big ol’ helping in each bowl, top with goat cheese or Cabot cheddar and fresh minced onion (whatever suits your fancy).  Spoon in and enjoy!

Warm and ready for you. We topped this bowl with Cabot cheddar cheese, diced onion, turkey chicharrones and a side of Bayley Hazen blue cheese toast.

Mmmm…. let winter begin.
Until we cook with warmth & comfort again,
A + H

Homemade Creamy Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

It started.  The snow.  As I write this, it’s gently falling outside of our window.  If this was North Carolina I would give a pleasant little squeal of “Ooh pretty! Snow day!”. But this is Vermont so instead I shiver and sigh, “Here we go. Buckle up.”

Ever since we formally announced our move, its seems like all conversations with friends and family have turned to snow.  “Brrrr… don’t forget to layer” “I hope you like to ski.” “We’ll visit in the summer, ok?”  “Hope you have four-wheel drive.”

You people have given me a complex and today the impending day has come, the first sign of flakes, and all I can seem to think of is soup.  So I yelled upstairs to the kitchen, “Babe!!! We need soup recipes.”  To which he replies, “Don’t worry. I got you.”  So today, we’re turning on the heat and letting loose on our first soup recipe:
Creamy Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage soup.

Mise en place. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

Simple ingredients. Ultimate taste.

Ingredients – base:

  • (3) small to medium apples, cored and chopped
  • (1) large yellow onion, chopped
  • (1) 3 pound butternut squash, cored and chopped into quarters as seen below
  • (1) pint of organic heavy cream
  • (1) clove of garlic, minced
  • (1) medium carrot, diced
  • (2) medium white or yellow potatoes, diced
  • (4) tablespoons of olive oil
  • (1/4) cup of white wine
  • (8) cups of water

First, let’s get our squash ready to roast:

1.  Preheat your oven at 375 degrees.

2.  Never broken down a squash before?  Here’s a crash course.

Peel a squash. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

First, you peel.

How to cut a squash. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

Then you begin little by little cutting it down.

How to cut a squash. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

Then you quarter. (Please excuse my apple core...I got busted snacking "on the job")

How to core a squash. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

And finally you scoop the core and finish chopping into quarters.

Quartered squash. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

Voila. You have broken down a squash. Bravo.

3.  Add (3) tablespoons of olive oil to your squash and mix well by hand.

4.  Pour your squash onto an ungreased sheet pan.

5.  Liberally salt & pepper and place in the oven.

Roasted squash. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

Did you know salt and pepper brings out the natural essence of your ingredients?

6. Roast for 40 minutes.  After 20 minutes, turn over your squash pieces and rotate your pan 180 degrees to help cook evenly and continue roasting for 20 minutes.

Roasting squash. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

In she goes... on to the next.

7. Meanwhile, in a large pot, add olive oil, carrots, and garlic.

Saute onions and carrots. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

So it begins...

8. Saute on medium to medium-high until you start obtaining a little color on  your onions.

9. Once onions begin displaying color, add your potatoes and apples.  Saute for (3) minutes.

Saute Potatoes, Onions And Carrots - Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

We're cookin now!

10. Next, add white wine to deglaze your pot.  Simmer for (6) minutes.

11. After simmer, add 6 cups of cold water, keep your heat on medium and cover.  Continue simmer for 20 minutes.

12.  Once your squash is done roasting to deliciousness in the oven, add to your pot.  After you add the squash add another (2) cups of water and turn your heat up to medium-high. Remove from stove.

Add squash into soup. Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

Moving right along...

Ingredients – spice goodness

  • (1/2) teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • (2) teaspoons of ground nutmeg
  • (1/4) teaspoon of ground allspice
  • (1/4) teaspoon of red pepper flake
  • (1/4) teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • (3) tablespoons of fresh sage, chiffonade
  • salt to taste (normally 1 – 2 teaspoons)

13.  Next, time to add your spices.  Add your cinnamon, salt to taste, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sage,and  heavy cream.

14. Return to stove for 20 minutes on medium to medium-high, stirring consistently.

15.  Want a thicker soup?  Add a little roux (1/2 butter, 1/2 flour) .
We added about (3) tbsp to our soup approximately three minutes before our soup was done. 
(Hint:  We keep ours in our fridge and just scrap out by fork as need.)

16. Spoon it out.  Add a little fresh shaved Parmigiano Reggiano if you please.  Slurp up, warm up, and enjoy. 
(We paired ours with fresh multi-grain Red Hen bread. Delish!)

Homeade Butternut And Apple Squash Soup

Comfort. At its finest.

Until we eat again,

A + H