Sunday, November 3, 2013

Soup's on

It's that time of year again. The time of year when Sundays are spent in the kitchen making everything from cookies to cabbage rolls. In other words, the best time of the year. I've missed being in the kitchen! Not that Summer wasn't wonderful. We had lots of new adventures in our household over the past four months. Some welcome (like flying to Banff and putting in a pool) some not (like breaking my foot). So with all of the 'new' going on around here, it's nice to know that my Sundays in the kitchen endure. They are the best way to wind down a weekend and start up a new week. Especially when I have soup on the menu.

I've had two fantastic soup experiences since Fall officially arrived. The first, Ghanaian Peanut Soup, is courtesy of a new food blog find, Kayotic Kitchen. This is one of those dishes I shouldn't have even tried, since I've had some hit and miss experiences with peanut in the past. I think what tipped me in the direction of trying this out was that I happened to have all of the necessary ingredients on hand, and I was curious to taste how the ginger and chili powder would impact the peanut butter. Turns out, ginger and chili are just what peanut butter needs in a soup! There were many skeptics in my kitchen the Sunday I tried this recipe out, but by the time they had all had a taste of the finished product they had to admit this soup is a keeper.

Ghanaian Peanut Soup - adapted slightly from Kayotic Kitchen


1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 chicken breast, cut in small pieces
1/4 tsp chili powder

I was pretty sure I had a bowl of left-over mashed potatoes in the fridge (bonus!) but when I went to retrieve them I found that someone had already declared them beyond and tossed them. So I made a fresh batch just for this soup. Sweet potatoes are another option (one I'd like to try). I'm not sure where the molasses came from. I could have sworn it was part of the original recipe, but when I went back to double-check it clearly was absent from the ingredients and instructions. So if you want to stay true to the original you might want to check the link above!

Directions: Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for five minutes. Once slightly transparent, add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes, then add ginger and cook another minute or two.

Stir in the peanut butter to melt, add the tomato paste, molasses and mashed potatoes and stir until you end up with a smooth paste. Slowly stir in chicken broth. Add the sugar and chili powder, then add the chicken. Bring everything to a boil and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

My next soup is also slightly adapted from an original. It's for Black Bean and Pumpkin soup via Smitten Kitchen, interpreted by Blueberries & Basil. I would have made the original SK version but didn't have any ham around so decided to try a vegetarian version. I knew David wouldn't touch this soup due to his aversion to beans. No one in my household likes beans, which I can't understand. Baked beans is one of my favourite dishes, and I make an awesome vegetarian chili that features beans. And now I also have a great go-to black bean soup that does a very nice job of using up pumpkin left over from making pumpkin oatmeal and pumpkin cookies...(it was a very large can of pumpkin!).

Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup - from Blueberries & Basil, and Smitten Kitchen

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup, modified from Smitten Kitchen
3 15 1/2 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can drained canned tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup minced shallot
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin seed, optional
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil or butter
4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 15 1/2 ounce can pumpkin (or about 1 1/2 cups from a larger can)
Heat olive oil or butter in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, shallot, salt, pepper, cumin, and cumin seed if using, and sauté until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. While the onion mixture is sautéing, pulse black beans, tomatoes, and pumpkin in the food processor until coarsely puréed (this will look really gross, but don't let that put you off.). Add bean mixture to the pot and add the stock; stir until well combined. Simmer 25 minutes, or until thick. Serve garnished with pumpkin seeds, sour cream or Greek yogurt.

I lack a photograph of either soup, but hate a kitchen journal with no photos! So I offer up this picture of Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup, my contribution to a family Thanksgiving this year. Clearly, I'm in a soup kind of place lately....

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