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.

Harrison-1

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.

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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.

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Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup
{adapted from a recipe from Cookie + Kate, original recipe from Local Bounty: Vegan Seasonal Recipes}
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Ingredients
  • 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
Directions
  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,
a+h
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Lucky ’13

It’s said that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is a reflection of what you’ll do all year long. I sure hope that’s true.

On the first day of 2013, I started my day in yoga class with lots of deep breathing and long “ommmmms”. My resolution is to be more fearless and with that in mind, my attempts at inversions and back bends were happily met with greater ease.

He on the other hand woke up inspired and was off to the kitchen for concocting. His creative brain was busy that morning piecing together a southern meal for good luck and good fortune filled with black-eyed peas, collard greens and pork.

That afternoon out came extra tables and chairs and “supper club” friends were called. Casually they arrived with hugs and well wishes…one by one by one.

bloody mary with dilly beans and candied bacon

The impromptu celebration was kicked off with Harrison’s (now) famous spicy Bloody Marys filled with horseradish ice and garnished with dilly beans and sugared bacon shared all around.

Later he followed those up with blackberry, mint and maple cocktails just as the soft January sun set.

blackberry mint cocktail

We exchanged resolutions; we laughed at resolutions and we revised resolutions all while The Black Keys played.

candle-lit mantle
We ate in good spirits. Thirteen of us, oddly and appropriately enough, to welcome 2013.

new years dinner tablescapemixed greens salad with beets, blue cheese and garden radishes{Mixed Greens with  roasted beets, goat cheese, spiced pecans, radicchio, radishes (fresh from our garden!) with aged balsamic drizzle}

stauber farm lamb{Roasted Leg of Stauber Farm Lamb on a Himalayan Salt Block with herbs, shallot & roasted garlic}

pork roulades{background: Grilled Pork Tenderloin Roulade with havarti, charred red pepper, asparagus, scallion & oven roasted tomato & fig balsamic  // foreground: Spinach & Tomato Pie with mascarpone, ricotta, roasted garlic & onion}

new years day buffet{foreground: Creamed Collard Greens with toasted pecans, blue cheese, mascarpone & homemade bacon}

old fashioned chocolate cake{Marlene’s chocolate cake with raspberry filling & chocolate sour cream icing}

new years eve buffet line

{throw in some hoppin’ john with our black-eyed peas, smoked pork, sauteed collards and you have….  just a modest little Littell spread…}

That night we said ‘cheers’ to celebrating each other and to the community that food builds together.

its a wrap

And today we again say ‘cheers’ to delicious new beginnings, a lucky ’13 and to all of you.

tablescape

Until we toast to new beginnings & dear friends again,
a+h

Collards And Hoppin’ John

Since it’s our first day back in town following a two-week stint down south, we’re considering this to be the official start of our “New Year” here in Vermont.  All day we have been dreaming and scheming new plans.  And thanks to the inspired southern new year meal Harrison cooked up for us this past week, we’re hoping luck will be on our side as we navigate the big year ahead.

Southern New Year Meal Recipes Collards and Hoppin John

Luck or no luck, it sure was good.

Here’s a peek inside the impromptu dinner date we shared with Harrison’s mom and step-dad at the family’s catering kitchen back in Winston-Salem where we reflected on the year behind and encouraged good fortune in the year ahead…

Black-eyed peas are said to represent coins and good luck. Folklore says to eat one black-eyed pea for each day of the year. I love them so much I think I doubled my luck.

Collard greens are said to represent wealth and symbolize folding money

Our take on hoppin john: black-eyed peas, cabbage, carrot, onion

First he was sauteing and tossing...

 

Then he was tieing and knotting so his "photographer" didn't miss a beat...

 

Cheers to new beginnings!

 What New Year’s tradition does your family share?

 
Until we dine and dream again,
 
A + H