Williamsburg Peanut Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    6 to 8

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

Make no mistake about it, despite Georgia’s reputation as the peanut (and pecan) capital of the universe, the nuts there cannot hold a candle to the large, oily, succulent, noble goobers grown in Virginia. (I order a steady supply of 2-pound bags from Original Nut House, in Wakefield, Virginia: 1-800-913-6642.) In 1794, Thomas Jefferson’s garden included no fewer than sixty-five peanut hills, and during Colonial times in Virginia, peanut soup was already considered one of the most elegant dishes served at the most refined dinners. Of course, every area of the state has its special version of the soup, and while nothing can be more soothing or delectable than a creamy peanut soup, this type based on chicken broth and a touch of tomato sauce, and found in many of the historic restaurants of Colonial Williamsburg, is hard to beat. As for the sacrilege of using peanut butter instead of freshly ground peanuts in the soup, “that’s the sort of crazy thing those folks down in the Carolinas and Georgia would do,” one waitress huffed.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roasted Virginia peanuts
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs (including leaves), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water, stirred into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon canned tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 drops Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

In a blender or food processor, combine 1 cup of the peanuts with 1 cup of the broth and blend to a purée. Add the remaining nuts and another cup of the broth and blend again till very smooth, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over moderately low heat, add the onion, celery, and garlic, and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the blender or food processor, add another cup of broth, blend to a purée, and scrape the mixture into a large, heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add the flour paste to the vegetable purée, stir, and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups broth, the strained peanut mixture, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, and Tabasco, season with salt and pepper, stir well, and continue to cook till the soup is velvety smooth, about 5 minutes.