Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roasted Peanut Soup with Honey Whipped Cream

I’m slowly working my way through last February’s Southern special from Bon Appétit (see here for sorghum-glazed baby carrots, here for black-eyed pea and celery leaf salad, and here for corn griddle cakes). The timing for this soup recipe was perfect, because we had a bag of roasted peanuts left over from one of the Engineer’s cookie recipes. Plus, I found a way to make this vegan! I updated the ingredient list below to reflect that. For the heavy cream: you need part of it mixed in with the soup, and part of it whipped and dolloped on top of it. I used soy creamer for the soup and a frozen whipping cream substitute for the topping. I couldn’t find unsweetened whipping cream substitute, but I do recommend at least choosing a brand that doesn’t have HFCS. The topping will be sweet anyways, so I just added a few drops of honey for taste instead of the whole amount. This soup was surprisingly good, and I think the flavors work so well because of all the vegetables added in with the peanuts (which are legumes, so this idea isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound).

2 heads of garlic
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts (mine were salted, so I omitted the kosher salt and diluted the broth)
3 cups sliced onions (about 2 onions)
3 cups thinly sliced celery stalks (about ½ bunch), leaves reserved
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or vegan margarine
1 to 2 quarts low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 Yukon Gold potato (about 8 oz.), peeled, cut into ¼" cubes
¾ cup chilled heavy cream, divided
kosher salt
1 Tbsp (or more) honey or maple syrup (see note above)
1 Tbsp. roasted peanut oil or ½ tsp toasted sesame oil (I used the latter)

Preheat oven to 450 °F. Slice off and discard the top third from each head of garlic. Place garlic on a sheet of foil. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil; wrap foil tightly around garlic. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until soft and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Let garlic cool slightly, then squeeze cloves into a small bowl, pouring in any oil remaining in foil.

Pulse peanuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer ¼ cup chopped peanuts to a small bowl, then continue pulsing remaining peanuts until a smooth butter forms, about 2 minutes (there will be about 2/3 cup peanut butter).

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add sliced celery, butter/margarine, and reserved roasted garlic with oil; cook, stirring frequently, until celery is softened, about 15 minutes. Add broth (the original recipe called for 2 quarts, but I only used 1 quart and found it enough) and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Add potato; simmer until potato is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.

Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Working in batches, carefully purée soup in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute per batch, adding peanut butter to last batch. Pour through prepared strainer. (I used my immersion blender here; I found it much easier, cleaner and faster, since I could purée the soup directly in the pot without transferring anything.) Whisk in ¼ cup cream (or soy creamer). Season to taste with salt.

Whisk remaining ½ cup cream (or whipping cream substitute) and a pinch of salt in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in honey/maple syrup and peanut oil; whisk until stiff peaks form.

Divide soup among bowls. Top with a dollop of honey whipped cream. Sprinkle reserved chopped peanuts and celery leaves over.

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