While I can’t say this recipe is from my family, it is one I like to make on occasion. [It’s one of those recipes you either love or hate.] And unfortunately, I’m about the only one in my family who loves it. So, when I make it, I’m left eating the leftovers until it is all consumed!
This is an 18th-century recipe [or receipt] that has been updated for modernity in Colonial Williamsburg.
In my youth, I visited Colonial Williamsburg often, and have collected quite a few “receipts” from both the 17th and 18th-centuries. Some I have updated, but most I copied as an updated version from the original. This is one that was already updated.
Okay, so before you knock it, you must remember that this was a great form of protein for the early settlers and farmers of Colonial Williamsburg. This was a crop that grew quite well in the southern soil, and which, when harvested and dried, allow for a protein source when winters winds and cold didn’t allow for game hunting. I have found most references for this soup say that the originators were the African slaves who brought the “receipt” with them when sold as slaves in Virginia. Wherever it originated, it’s wonderful on a cold winter’s day!
As I said earlier, it’s a recipe you will either love or hate. I for one am of the former group!
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 8 cups Chicken Stock* (or low-salt canned chicken stock)
- 2 cups smooth peanut butter [I use Smuckers all-natural, it is less sweet]
- 1 ¾ cups light cream or half-and-half
- Finely chopped salted peanuts, for garnish
In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, three-five minutes.
Stir in flour and cook two minutes longer.
Pour in the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the liquid to the sauce pan or pot.
Whisk the peanut butter and the cream into the liquid. Warm over low heat, whisking often, for about five minutes. Do not boil.
Serve warm, garnished with the chopped peanuts.
****To change things up a bit, I sometimes cook whole peanuts, [just like you would dried beans] in the crockpot, until tender. Then continue with the recipe above, without straining, pour that into the crockpot with the cooked peanuts, and allow to simmer for a couple more hours so that the flavors meld. I have even added sweet potatoes, cut into chunks, into the blend, for more of a stew consistency. Chicken can be added also for more flavor if desired.It is also quite tasty served over rice or cornbread.