Jeff was not too happy when he opened last week’s CSA box to find quite a few yams hiding towards the bottom. I must admit, I was a little unsure about finding yet another application for the yams/sweet potatoes we seem to always have on our counter, but I knew inspiration would eventually strike. Then, earlier this week, my parents decided to drive down for a visit and since they were getting here kinda late, they requested a nice soup or something easy and homemade when they got here. At this point, I wasn’t even thinking about using the yams, but I grabbed my go-to soup bible, Love Soup, and stumbled across this masterpiece: Spicy Indonesian Yam & Peanut Butter Soup. Talk about serendipitous!
Like many of Anna Thomas’s soups, this soup wasn’t just the saute and let simmer for hours kind of soup–it takes a little “love” for it all to come together! And for Thomas, love=lots of prep and steps, but at least I knew what I was getting in for this time. After perusing the recipe, I realized this wasn’t going to quite as labor intensive as some of the others I’d made, so I set about collecting the ingredients I didn’t already have in my pantry: curry powder and tamarind paste.
We’d never cooked with curry powder before, I think mostly because I don’t really like the coconut that normally accompanies it, so I was excited to add it to our ever-growing shoebox of spices (yes, I really do keep my spices in a shoebox–hello, tiny kitchen!). I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to find tamarind paste, but I ended up finding it in the asian/indian food section of our Whole Foods-copycat grocery store. I had no idea what the tamarind paste would taste like and man, is it sour! Thomas recommends using a bit of lemon juice as a substitute for the tamarind if you can’t find it or don’t want to buy any and now I know why!
Onto the soup! We followed Thomas’ recipe pretty much verbatim, so I’m not going to share an actual printable recipe at the end like I normally do. But I will take you through the steps to create one of the most unusual, but fabulous soups I’ve ever had. It’s nice to step out of your comfort zone every once and awhile!
First, I carefully peeled the yams, parsnips, and carrots, all from local farms. Yum!
Then, I spent the next 15 minutes grating ginger…
Once you have your veggies prepped, you put the yams, parsnips, carrots, ginger, some cilantro and a little salt in a large soup pot. You add water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
While the veggies simmer, you saute onions and garlic in a frying pan and toast a few cumin seeds (this book is the reason I need that mortar and pestle!). I found it interesting that you added the curry powder and cumin to the onions/garlic, instead of just to the soup like I would have thought.
Finally, you add the seasonings: tamarind paste, lemon juice, cayenne, peanut butter, and a little vegetable broth, then you puree the soup using one of my favorite kitchen tools–our immersion blender!
We topped our finished soup with a few cilantro leaves and some hot sauce–a perfect compliment to the yam/peanut flavors!
Jeff and I also decided to try making homemade pita bread for the first time. We used this recipe as a guide, but the process was pretty similar to normal bread making, just with a shorter rise time. It was fun baking each pita in the oven and watching them balloon up, although I think we need to invest in a pizza stone soon!
I really highly recommend checking out the Love Soup cookbook if you haven’t seen it yet–it will change the way you look at soup!
Do you have any cookbooks that inspire/challenge you?