Over thanksgiving, visiting from New York, we stopped at the Red Fox Inn in Middleburg, VA. Along with the excellent fried chicken, I tried something from the menu I'd never seen before: peanut soup. It was delicious -- creamy and thick, pale tan color, topped with a crunchy chopped peanut garnish.
Is this a common dish in Virginia? Is it made and served in other parts of the south? Is there any interesting lore to be passed on about it? Does anyone have a favorite recipe? Would love to hear anything there is to know about this dish. Yum!
Peanut soup is a favorite throughout Virginia, not just in the peanut growing parts of the Commonwealth. I live in Arlington and make a mean peanut soup by request every Thanksgiving. It's something of a rite of passage for both hosts and guests in Virginia. It's been around since Colonial times in these parts (George Washington and George Mason both enjoyed it).
Peanut soup is a staple in the peanut growing areas of Virginia, Franklin, Courtland, Boykins, etc, Basicially, Surry and Southhampton counties. Williamsburg is across the James from here, which is why it is popular there. A more traditional recipe than Flay's updated one, can be found at the Whitley's peanut website, but here it is:
COLONIAL PEANUT SOUP
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 branch celery, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; add onion
and celery. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add flour and
mix until well blended. Stir in chicken broth and allow
to simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat,
strain broth. Stir the peanut butter, salt and lemon
juice into the strained broth until well mixed. Serve
hot in cups. Garnish each cup with a teaspoon of
chopped peanuts. Makes 6 servings.
Virginia Peanut Soup should not, however, be confused with AFrican Peanut Soup, aka, Groundnut Stew. Both wonderful in their own right, one probably gots its origins from the other, but they are two totally different things, IMO. Virginia Peanut Soup is just that...a soup...a savory puree type dish. Groundnut Stew is chunky, full of veggies, with peanut butter added for depth, etc.
I love the "Sunday's at Moosewood" West African Peanut Soup. I think I got the recipe from the home cooking board a long time ago. It has sweet potato, carrots, onions, ginger and peanut butter, and tomato juice in it. Garnished with chopped peanuts and scallions. Quite tasty.
Peanut soup is a staple in Williamsburg Virginia..You can get it at all the restaurants in the Williamsburg Historic village..
We LOVE it..
Here is one recipe:
Virginia Peanut Soup Recipe courtesy Chef Chris Carey, Ashby Inn
Show: FoodNation With Bobby Flay
Episode: Virginia Inn Country
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
2 scallions, chopped
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour all at once and cook until the mixture has a toasty aroma. Whisk the stock into the flour mixture in a slow, steady stream until smooth. Add the heavy cream and peanut butter to the soup and stir to combine. Stir in the hot sauce and lime juice and season, to taste. Garnish with the chopped peanuts and scallions.