This is truly and honestly my most favorite soup of all time. It is creamy and comforting, spicy and flavorful. It is African-influenced. It is at once modern and familiar. And while you’ll need a handful of spices (have you been building your spice cabinet?), the technique is simple and fairly quick.
I first came across this soup years and years ago when I lived in New Jersey. Montclair, with its “winter views” of Manhattan, had an outpost of what was, for a brief shining moment, a wonderful little soup shop. Initially, it was really great. But then, the original owners dropped out after making a cookbook, someone else took over. You know the story. This shop was in a teeny what-used-to-probably-be-a-closet-for-maintenance-equipment underneath railroad tracks.
But this soup. The combination of leeks and curry and peanuts and spice and goodness, well, it was worth it what I seem to recall being like nine bucks a bowl.
Here’s my take on all the warm toasty soup goodness with none of the pesky cost. Enjoy it when it’s chilly and you want to skip the meat for a night or four. This makes plenty.
Spicy Senegalese Peanut Soup, makes a whole bunch (inspired by a recipe in The Daily Soup Cookbook)
1 12 oz bag of roasted, salted peanuts (this is the size of a bag from Whole Foods)
2 T vegetable oil, (or preferably peanut oil)
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, destringed, chopped
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, well rinsed and thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 t sugar
2 t curry powder
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground cayenne pepper
1 t salt
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained, with liquid reserved
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 c heavy cream
In a food processor, pour in the peanuts, and process for a quick two or three pulses. Remove a scant 1/4 c of the peanuts and reserve. Replace the lid and puree the rest until a thick paste forms. Set aside.
In a large stock pot, add the oil and the onions, celery, leeks and garlic and sweat over low heat for five to seven minutes. Add the sugar, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt and stir to coat the vegetables with the spices. Cook for two minutes. Add the tomatoes, then the reserved tomato juice with enough water to make six cups. Add the peanut puree and mix well to break up the paste. Turn the heat to high and stir frequently until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Add in the cream just before serving and taste for seasoning. Add a bit of salt if you think it needs it.
Garnish with the chopped scallions and the reserved peanuts.
Try to stop at just one bowl.
Playlist included Mbeuguel Dafa Nekh by Jeri-Jeri featuring Mbene Diatta Seck. From Senegal.