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Virginia Peanut Soup

serves 4

If you want to lighten this soup a bit, you can omit the sautéed apples and bacon and instead garnish the soup with chopped scallions and crushed peanuts.

Read more about this recipe on the Cookthink blog.



ingredients

For the soup:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
Kosher or sea salt
4 to 5 cups best-quality fat-free, low-sodium commercial chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup freshly ground peanut butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup half-and-half

For the garnish:
2 thick slices smoky Virginia bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
2 tablespoons sugar

timer

prep: 15 minutes
total: 1 hour 20 minutes

tools

Dutch oven or heavy saucepan
small bowl
blender
fine-mesh sieve
whisk
skillet
paper towel-lined bowl
slotted spoon

instructions

To make the soup:

1. Warm the butter and the oil in a medium-size Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan placed over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and celery, stirring to coat them thoroughly. Cook the vegetables for 7 minutes, or until they have begun to soften and the onion is translucent. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

2. Gradually pour in 4 cups of chicken broth, stirring as you go to prevent clumps from forming. Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the red pepper flakes. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil, stirring it frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring from time to time to prevent the flour from settling to the bottom of the pan (reduce the heat further if it is simmering too briskly). Cook until the vegetables are completely tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Put the tomato paste into a small bowl and spoon some of the hot soup into it, to loosen the paste. Pour the paste mixture into the saucepan and stir to combine thoroughly with the soup.

4. Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Purée the soup in a blender and then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve back into the saucepan. Press down on the solids to extract all of the liquid and flavor from them. Discard the solids and set the soup over low heat.

5. Whisk in the peanut butters, taking care to avoid lumps, and then the half-and-half. Heat gently until the soup is warmed through, but do not let it boil. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch more salt if necessary. Divide the hot soup between 4 shallow rimmed bowls and garnish with a mound of sautéed apples and bacon in the center of each bowl. Serve immediately.

To make the garnish:

6. Place the bacon in a dry skillet and set the skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon, stirring it frequently, until it is just crisp, about 5 minutes.

7. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a small, paper towel-lined bowl. Leave the drippings in the pan. Add the apple slices to the pan, and stir to coat them thoroughly with the drippings. Sprinkle the sugar over the apples and sauté, stirring from time to time, until the slices are golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Return the bacon to the skillet and gently combine with the apples. Serve immediately.



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