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Peanut Soup


1-2 T roasted peanut oil
1 large onion, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 C chopped cilantro stems
1/4 t cayenne powder or hot red pepper flakes (less or more to taste)
1 T curry powder
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2/3 C peanut butter, preferably organic and unsweetened
1 C coconut milk (or more to taste)
Sea salt
2 T sugar
3 T lime juice [or 2 T lemon juice]

3 T chopped cilantro, plus whole stems for garnish
Plain yogurt
Lime wedges


Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion, garlic, and cilantro stems. Stir over high heat a few minutes to warm the onion. Lower heat to medium and sauté about 10 minutes until onion softens. Stir in cayenne (or pepper flakes) and curry powder.

Add 3 C water with tomatoes (include all their juice). Stir well and bring to a boil. Drop in peanut butter and stir until onions are soft and peanut butter dissolves (about 15 minutes). Stir in coconut milk. Season with salt to taste. (It will need less salt than most soups.) Just before serving, add chopped cilantro. Serve with a dollop of yogurt in the bowl and a lime wedge on the side.

My friend Deb Dinkmeyer, who is from Kentucky, was enjoying her cottage in the north woods at the same time I was closing ours, so we took a gorgeous winding drive on M-22 over to Beulah, MI for some of the fabulous soup she raved about at the Phoenix Café. Chef and co-owner, Sheila Prochnow, shared her delicious and intriguing version of Peanut Soup. Sheila is a Michigander who grew up in Ann Arbor loving to cook at the side of her mom, who is also a great cook. She notes that her mom never used recipes, but she always starts with one and adapts it. Sheila's Peanut Soup is a veggie soup that is gluten free and practically perfect in every way! She serves it with an optional side of browned coconut to sprinkle on the soup. We opted for that and found it just right for a crisp sunny day that started out with rain, a rainbow out over Lake Michigan, and a few minutes of sleet! Sheila's recipe was inspired by, Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. Deborah gives credit to James Peterson's Splendid Soups: Recipes and Master Techniques for Making the World's Best Soups. I love how benevolent cooks share their secrets and give credit where credit is due! I cannot report where James found his recipe. Maybe the buck, I mean the ladle, stopped there.

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