Pleasingly Peanutty: Sopa de Mani

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Let me paint a little picture for you. Yesterday when I woke up and checked the weather, I thought my phone was stuck in Estes Park when the temp flashed 45 degrees. When I took a closer look and realized it hadn’t, I shook my fist at the weather gods, grabbed my warmer coat and trudged out the door.

Despite feeling residual laziness from the past weekend and my eleven hours of slumber on Saturday night, one must eat and given the weather, one must eat soup. And chili, but the chili isn’t the star of the table today. This soup, Sopa de Mani, takes that honor.

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In searching through the food of Bolivia, I came across this dish multiple times and figured it was worth a go. It’s not a far cry from a standard homemade soup- beef bones, the trinity, a pepper or two- with one distinction: raw peanuts, pureed, giving this soup a creaminess sans cream.

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Admittedly, I hesitated to make it. While I do love all things peanut, and peanut butter, the few times I’ve made any sort of soup with a peanut base I’ve been underwhelmed. The isombe comes to mind and most recently the mote pata. Still, in the spirit of trying new things and giving Bolivia’s peanut soup a chance, I plowed forward using a hodge podge of other recipes to create my own. I added a few more spices and omitted any kind of starch (rice or potatoes) in the base for no reason other than I didn’t have any potatoes in the house and I wasn’t feeling the rice. The result was a chunky, vegetable soup that was actually quite pleasing. Not too shabby.

I made the stock using only beef bones, meaning that I didn’t have any meat remaining to make this a true beef vegetable soup in the way my grandmother would have made it with all the glorious, meaty chunks. As such, the beef stock can be substituted with any homemade (or store bought) veggie stock, and would make this soup any vegetarian’s delight. Feel free to add 1/2 cup of rice or quinoa, and a potato if you’re feeling it to make this a wee bit heartier.

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Sopa de Mani
Serves 4
Bolivian peanut soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 TB olive or vegetable oil
  2. 1 stalk celery, diced
  3. 1 large onion, diced
  4. 2 carrots, diced
  5. 1 tsp garlic, minced
  6. 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  7. 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced, fresh or canned
  8. 4 cups beef or vegetable stock
  9. 1/2 cup blanched peanuts
  10. 1 tsp cumin
  11. 1 TB Mexican oregano
  12. salt and pepper
  13. 1/2 cup rice (optional) or 1 potato, diced
  14. 2 limes, juiced
  15. 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  16. fried potato or tortilla strips, to garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, add the oil, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and spices and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender, add the peanuts and 1 cup water, and puree until smooth and chunk-less.
  3. Once the veggies are done, add the tomatoes, stock and peanut water (and the rice and/or potato). Let simmer 1 hour, covered, to prevent too much liquid from evaporating.
  4. After the hour is up, add the peas and let cook 5 minutes until they're thawed. Add the lime juice and cilantro. Serve with fried tortilla or potato strips.
Adapted from various
Adapted from various
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World http://thehungarybuddha.com/
Was it my favorite? I can’t with good conscience say that it was. However, after playing beach volleyball in sweatpants last night, and nursing blue toes back to pink, I’d say it did the trick to warm me up and wipe away some of the June chill.

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