I lived in the U.S.A. for the first 41 years of my life. During that time, I ate a lot of peanut butter and I never gave it a second thought. When I had kids in school, I came to learn that many children have severe peanut allergies and therefore many American classrooms are peanut free. I suffered a few moments of confusion now and then when faced with no PB and J’s as a lunchbox option, but that did not stop us from eating lots and lots of peanut butter at home.
Then I moved to Israel and discovered that peanut butter is a wholly American phenomenon. Not to say that Israelis don’t eat peanut butter – they do! They even have a children’s snack called Bamba, which is basically peanut butter flavored puffs and is routinely given to babies as soon as they are eating solid foods. That is to say WAY before peanut products are allowed to American children. Interestingly enough, there is either a lower rate of peanut allergies in Israel, or just a lack of awareness, because I have yet to encounter any peanut-free classrooms.
But Israelis do not eat Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. Ever. It’s a totally unacceptable concept. And guess what, same thing with the Brits, the Aussies, and the South Africans! I had to make some serious recipe adjustments for my fellow English speaking clients from other countries who were repulsed by the idea of peanut butter flavored food.
That is a long way of saying that although I personally loved this African Peanut Soup, my Israeli husband frowned and exclaimed “Is there nothing safe from American Peanutization?” (not in those exact words). So, if you’re a peanut lover you will love this soup. If not, better skip it!
This recipe is a combination of 2 recipes in Jeanne Lemlin's book, Simple Vegetarian Pleasures.
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, roasted
- 1 Tbsp peanut oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 6 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- lots of black pepper
- red pepper to taste
- roasted peanuts to garnish if desired
- chopped cilantro (cusbara) to garnish if desired
- Scoop flesh from cooked squash and set aside.
- Saute all veggies in the oil until soft and fragrant.
- Add all remaining ingredients, including the squash.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, covered over medium heat for 30-40 minutes.
- Puree with an immersion blender.
- Serve hot, garnished with peanuts and cilantro if desired.