37. M’s Spicy Peanut Soup

M was one of my favorite people at school – she was a year ahead of me and thus graduated after my first year, but no one really replaced her in my second year. She was one of the most driven, down-to-earth people I met – she was committed to writing in a way that I rarely saw, even though her classmates were all trying to become writers as well. Her work was unique and rooted in the places she’s lived all over the world. I enjoyed sitting on old couches with her during poetry readings and listening to what was going on in her long novel project. When I found out last month that she was going to have this same novel published this year, I was hardly surprised: it just makes sense.

It’s almost summer break, which is a wonderful opportunity for me to get back into writing. I am hoping to channel M when the school year is over and my work becomes writing the novel I’m working on. As I was thinking about her and her drive, I remembered this recipe she shared with me: it was a soup that tasted pretty much exactly like peanut butter, but which was actually chock-ful of vegetables, chicken, and spice.

To remake it I pulled veggies from the fridge that had seen better days: a sweet potato, two onions, a pile of scrawny carrots, and a pile of nearly-too-old celery. I cut it all up into small bits and sauteed the whole pile in 2 tablespoons of butter. I boiled some chicken, two breast pieces, and then I added all the boiled water into the veggies and pulled the chicken into pieces with two forks. I added half a cup of peanut butter and a small can of tomato paste to the veggies, and mixed till it looked velvety and… well, like peanut butter. I finished it with a tablespoon of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and the pulled chicken bits.

The result was strange – the peanut-ness permeates everything, including things like celery, which is definitely not a normal flavor combination in the States. However, the earthy tingle in my throat from the hot sauce after I swallowed made the soup feel complete, like all the flavors were actually perfect together. I recommend giving it a shot, either with your own veggies or with the original combination suggested by various peanut stew recipes on the internet. I am using this soup like productivity fuel, as I hope to write as well and as often as M does.

While I couldn’t find the original version I used years ago, here’s the version I worked from this time: African Chicken Peanut Stew

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7 comments on “37. M’s Spicy Peanut Soup

  1. I made this a few years ago from a recipe on allrecipes…I remember it being really good despite what seemed an odd combination of ingredients but I somehow forgot about it. I may have to look that one up again.

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    • Yeah! I liked it specifically because I had nearly-too-old veggies, and you totally couldn’t tell. If it had been a clear broth or a cream soup, I feel like I would have found the veggies lackluster, but the peanut butter overpowers that! Also, definitely add enough hot sauce to take it to your edge – I’m a hot sauce wimp, so just a tablespoon was enough to kick it up for me.

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      • I like just enough hot sauce to give a little kick but not too much. I’ll have to leave the bottle on the table because while I like just a couple shakes in my bowl, my husband and middle daughter load up on it. My oldest and youngest don’t like it at all.

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      • We do the “a little bit in the dish and a bottle of hot sauce on the table” thing quite frequently. Helps everyone enjoy the dish more!

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  2. coleymojo says:

    This sounds like my husband’s dream food…peanut butter, hot sauce, and whatever else is available. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. […] as usual – peanut flavoring is wonderful for making alternative proteins tasty (see 37. M’s Spicy Peanut Soup recipe, for instance), and these were wonderfully spiced as well. I am glad that they had quinoa in […]

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  4. […] as usual – peanut flavoring is wonderful for making alternative proteins tasty (see 37. M’s Spicy Peanut Soup recipe, for instance), and these were wonderfully spiced as well. I am glad that they had quinoa in […]

    Liked by 1 person

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