Africa, Tanzania

Tazanian peanut soup

I’ve said before that African food is my heart food. My travels to Tanzania began my love of East African cuisine. It was exciting and flavorful and familiar all at the same time. Most recipes use things that someone in a small town could find at the grocery store. Many dishes are naturally gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. This soup is dairy free and gluten free. It uses plenty of veggies and gets its smooth and creamy flavor from peanut butter and coconut milk. Tanzanian peanut soup can be ready in as little as a half hour. You could serve it with fruit and bread if you like, but I promise you, it’s filling all on its own!

Tanzanian peanut soup

serves 4-6

ingredients:

1 tablespoon organic red palm oil

1 onion chopped

3 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 average eggplant, peeled, sliced about an inch thick, each slice cut again into 4 quarters

1/4 cup smooth, unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter (I use Justin’s)

1 can coconut milk

1 quart chicken broth

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon base (I like Better than Bouillon)

a couple dashes of Maggi (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Penzy’s Spices “sweet curry“)

salt and pepper

*red pepper flakes I went a little off course and used Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) because I have so much and I used a full teaspoon. It was excellent in this dish. You can Aleppo use pepper or cayenne pepper. The authentic pepper flake would be crushed African birdseye pepper. A good starting point would be 1/4 teaspoon and increase as you wish.

optional add-ins and ons:

2 cups greens such as spinach, chard, or collard

avocado slices

chopped cilantro

sliced hot pepper

1.Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for about another 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, Maggi (if using), bouillon, curry powder, hot pepper flakes or powder, turmeric, and a little more salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.

2.Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and peanut butter. Stir and heat to a simmer. Add the eggplant and bring it back to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggplant is really tender.

3.Now get out that immersion blender and blend it all up! You want it to be silky smooth.  If you’re using greens, you can add them now and simmer for maybe around 5 minutes.  Don’t make my mistake and add long ribbons of chard.  While tasty, it conflicted with the texture of the soup. Chop those greens up real good before you add them. Top with the avocado, hot pepper, cilantro too if you please.  Usually I’m all about the soup toppings but honestly, this soup is absolutely delicious without.

 

Brazil, South America

chilled soup with mango, yogurt, and serrano peppers

 

I loved styling these in my great grandma’s Depression glass sherbet dishes.

One of our favorite restaurants is a North Denver staple, Cafe Brazil. It’s consistently good and always busy but not too busy. The first dish of theirs that I fell in love with was the chilled yogurt soup. It has mango, cucumber, red onions, and slices of serrano pepper. It’s such a unique flavor and the perfect palette perk to start your meal. I actually have no idea if this is an actual Brazilian soup or if it’s an original creation from the chef at Cafe Brazil. The internet offered no help. I’ll be asking next time I visit.  I recreated this soup for the first time when I was visiting my sister because I knew she would love it.  She went nuts over it and I hope you do, too.

Super quick and easy recipe with not too many ingredients!

chilled soup with mango, yogurt, and serrano peppers

ingredients:

serves 8 as a starter

1 cup of ripe mango, cut into chunks

1 small red onion, cut into four pieces and then sliced about 1/8 inch thick

1 seedless English cucumber

24 oz. plain, whole milk yogurt (not Greek style)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used Real Salt Brand)

fresh ground black pepper

Peel and slice your onion.  Transfer to a bowl and pour in the red wine and white vinegar along with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt all of the sugar.  Set aside to quick pickle for about 10-15 minutes. No need to peel your English cucumber. Slice it in half the long way and then slice into 1/8 thick half moons.  Peel the mango and cut into chunks. The pre-sliced kind makes this easy. Thinly slice the serrano pepper and set aside.

 


Combine the 2 cups of yogurt and 1 cup of cold water into a deep bowl. Add the mango chunks.  Use the immersion blender you bought to blend the yogurt, water, and mango. You could also just as easily use a blender. Blend. You want it mostly smooth with a few small chunks left over.

Add the sliced cucumber, half of the serrano pepper (leave the rest to garnish), about 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt, freshly ground black pepper and the quick-pickled red onion.  Stir together. Let it sit in the fridge at least one hour before serving to let the flavors mingle and improve. Serve garnished with the serrano pepper slices and the fresh ground black pepper.

 

North America

butternut squash corn chowder with goat cheese, bacon, and fried sage

It was about 8 years ago. We were invited to over to our new friend’s place for some drinks and snacks before we were going to go do….something.  I forget what we did! Really, the only thing I remember about that night was the food and friends part. Especially the part when my friend brought out this gorgeous little cup of chowder with all these luxuriously fancy toppings.  This chowder made quite the impression on me.  I immediately asked her to send me the recipe the next day.  It was quite involved, so I adapted it to be super easy for any night.  Instead of peeling, dicing and then roasting a butternut squash, I use frozen. Yes! Instead of boiling corn on the cob and sheering it off the cob, I use frozen. Yes! There is no doubt that using the fresh ingredients would taste amazing. But have you ever tried peeling a butternut squash and then dicing it? It will probably make you angry. Choose happiness!

One piece of equipment that makes this soup a breeze is my handy (ha) immersion blender.  You can definitely transfer the hot vegetables and broth to a blender and it will be just fine, but what a pain.  Go buy an here if you don’t have one.  That is the one I own and love.

butternut squash corn chowder with goat cheese, bacon, and fried sage

serves 4

ingredients:

10 oz. frozen butternut squash

10 oz. frozen sweet corn

1 quart chicken stock (this is my favorite kind)

1 chipotle pepper with about a spoonful of adobo sauce

1 yellow onion (sliced)

2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)

1 bay leaf

2 Tablespoons coconut or avocado oil (I prefer these two because of health reasons but you can use any oil, or butter!)

salt and pepper

toppings:

5 slices of bacon (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)

20 fresh sage leaves

4-6 oz. goat cheese (crumbled)

Pour the oil into a large pot and heat to medium high. Add the sliced onion and season with salt and pepper.  Fry the onion until fairly soft and then add the garlic, chipotle pepper with the sauce, and bay leaf.  Fry about 30 more seconds and then add the frozen butternut squash and corn.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let that cook about 5-7 more minutes. Pour in the stock and turn the heat to medium low.  Simmer everything for a good half hour. Meanwhile, heat a non stick or cast-iron skillet to medium high and add your bacon pieces.  Fry until crisp. Take the bacon out with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings behind.   Add the sage leaves to the bacon fat and fry until crip but not burned.

 

 

Take out the leaves with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Immediately season with salt.  Take out 3 small bowls for each of your toppings like this:

When the soup is done simmering for a half hour, get out your immersion blender and careful start to blend it up.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you’ll have to transfer the soup in batches to your regular blender and then transfer it back to the pot.  You’ll want the soup to be fairly smooth and blended.  Taste it.  Needs more salt? Probably.  Try to keep in mind that you’ll be adding salty bacon, goat cheese and fried sage to your bowl.  Dish the chowder into a bowl and top with the toppings.  This would be delicious served with a simple green salad with olive oil and lemon juice and also some corn bread. Yes, the sweet kind!