Virginian Peanut Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 45 minutes

Where Peanut Soup, Senegalese Style, is rustic and loaded with vegetables, this classic American peanut soup is subtle and refined. Traditionally, a smooth, roux-thickened peanut soup signals the beginning of a heavy southern meal, but I’ve replaced the roux with fresh cream and a potato and added chunky peanut butter. Smooth peanut butter is a product that often contains extra sugars and fats that mask the true flavor of peanuts, though, of course, “real” smooth peanut butter exists, and if you prefer that, go ahead and use it. But I like the crunch.

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup minced onion

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

5 cups vegetable stock or water

1 cup heavy or light cream, or half-and-half

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts for garnish

01 Put the butter in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When melted, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the celery and carrots, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the vegetables begin to release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes.

02 Add the potato, bay leaves, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the soup bubbles gently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully push the soup through a strainer with a big spoon or a potato masher so that some of it comes out the other side purГ©ed. Use a spoon or a rubber spatula to scrape that vegetable puree back into the strained soup. Discard the remaining solids in the strainer.

03 Bring the soup back to a gentle bubble. Stir in the cream and peanut butter and cook, without boiling, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Garnish with the peanuts and serve.

Variation

Vegan Virginian Peanut Soup. Instead of butter, start with 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Omit the cream and use 1 cup soy milk.