Ginger Peanut Squash Soup
Peanut-enriched stews may be what comes to mind when most of us think about African cuisine, and for all the right reasons: hearty creamy stews kissed with peanut butter and chiles are irresistible and filling. The addition of okra makes this one of my favorite ways to enjoy that veggie. A scoop of cooked rice makes a simple accompaniment.
Tip: Use the tip of a metal spoon to scrap away the thin flesh of fresh ginger before mincing. Just hold onto the ginger root and scrape away!
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, scraped and medium dice
1-2 hot red chile peppers, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 inch cube fresh ginger, scraped and finely minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
½ pound plum tomatoes, core and seeds removed, diced or one 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
⅔ cup natural peanut butter
½ lb. Zucchini or any summer squash, medium dice
½ lb fresh okra or 10 ounce package frozen okra
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Handful fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1. In a large stock pot add peanut oil and heat over medium heat, or until oil begins to shimmer. Stir in onion and saute for 4 minutes or until softened, then stir in carrot, minced chile pepper. Saute for 1 minute, then stir in garlic, ginger and ground coriander. Pour in vegetable broth, bay leaves and tomatoes and increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
2. Scoop peanut butter into a mixing bowl. Pour about 1 cup of hot broth over the peanut butter (avoid scooping up a bay leaf) and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir into the peanut butter until it’s emulsified and creamy. Return peanut butter mixture to the pot; if desired pour a little soup back into the mixing bowl to rinse any remaining peanut butter mixture from the sides and pour back into the pot. Add the zucchini. If using fresh okra, remove any tough stems and slice into 1/2 inch wide pieces; if using frozen okra slice the entire block into 1/2 thick pieces and add to the pot. Increase heat to bring mixture to a gentle simmer, then turn heat down to low, partially cover the pot and cook for 30-35 minutes or until okra and zucchini is tender.
3. Stir in lime juice and salt; taste mixture and adjust with more lime juice and salt if desired. Turn off heat, cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro leaves just before serving.