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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Golden Tulip Soup

The other day, I mentioned that I was in the midst of making "Golden Tulip Soup." Actually, it is West African Peanut Soup, a recipe I picked up from Chef Oberi at the Golden Tulip Restaurant in Accra, Ghana, West Africa (Hence, the name.)

Several of you asked for the recipe. Well, I'm going to give it to you, but where I come from, you never just give out a recipe. "Nothing good ever came out of a formula," my Portuguese grandmother always said. She said that first and with great disdain about the fact that her daughters were not breast feeding their children, but she came to say it about almost everything in the American culture.

There was always an annotated version to every recipe. Of course, my grandmother would not have approved of communicating this electronically. She even grew frustrated giving recipes over the phone. How could you see what her hands were doing when, for example, she was trying to tell you her specially developed technique for kneading bread or stirring the cream sauce?

The first thing to know about this soup is the Peanut Butter. When I charmed my way into the restaurant kitchen, it was the first thing I asked Chef Oberi. I wanted to know where he got the peanuts and how he ground them.

Chef Oberi smiled a great big, beautiful smile and then crooked his finger to follow him into the supply closet. There he showed me six cases filled with large jars of - hold on - SUPER CHUNK JIFF peanut butter. He said it was the best.

Ah, I said, but the tomatoes? Certainly, he used his sainted mother's canned, stewed tomatoes. Nope. Large cans of Stop and Shop Brand tomatoes lined another shelf. "My mother, who lives in Woodbridge, NJ, always gets them in the January Stop and Shop 'Can Can' sale and ships them to me."

Ah well. He did use local sweet potatoes, which have an earthier flavor and their consistency is quite a bit more dense than the ones grown on American soil. My sense of the romantic continued undaunted.

In a fit of romanticism, I once went to Whole Foods Supermarket and ground my own fresh peanut butter and saved a 1/2 cup of finely chopped peanuts for that "crunch." Chef Oberi was right. Jiff Super Chunk is best.

A few other notes: I START with two tablespoons of curry and cook them in with the sauteed onions. I ALWAYS add more. Much more. Later.

Same thing with the chili powder and cayenne pepper. Use your own judgement and trust your own taste buds.

Finally, I have found that the Thai brand coconut milk is less expensive than the Goya brand, but Goya has just come out with a "Light" version - less fat but just as wonderful to the taste.

Okay, here you go. Enjoy:

Golden Tulip Soup
West African Peanut Soup
(I got this recipe from the chef at the Golden Tulip Restaurant in Accra, Ghana)

Ingredients:

2 - 3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoon curry powder
2 large onions, sliced or minced
2 tablespoons minced garlic (more or less to taste)
4 medium – large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
4 cans (14 oz.) vegetable or chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can stewed, whole tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
Optional:
One pound ground beef, pork and/or turkey
One pound shrimp, scallops, fish
Or, one pound of combination of shrimp and chicken
Salt to taste (1-2 tsp.)
Black pepper to taste (1-2 tsp.)
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 small (18 oz) jar chunky peanut butter (Skippy or Jiff work well)
1 small (14 oz) can coconut milk (I find the Thai brand less expensive)

Heat 2 T peanut oil in large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add curry powder and cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally for two minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Stir in sweet potatoes, broth and tomatoes, and bring soup to a boil. Simmer, covered, thirty to forty minutes.

Optional: In a large skillet heat the remaining peanut oil. Add the meat or fish and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break any clumps until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Drain on towels. Add cooked meat to the pot.

Add salt, black pepper, cayenne, peanut butter, and coconut milk to the soup, stirring to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings according to taste.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped chives. Great with a light salad and croissant or flaky, crescent rolls. I think a light white wine, like Pinot Grigo is a nice compliment to this meal

6 comments:

David Austin Allen said...

Dios Mio that sounds delicious! I am always looking for more ways to prepare camotes.

The reason his sweet potatoes are earthier is because he is using true yams, which are indigenous to Africa and we have sweet potatoes, which are indigenous to the Americas, but the two, although both tubers, similar in appearance and flavor, are only very distantly related. Sweet potatoes are related to Morning Glories!

johnieb said...

I gotta make this soon; sounds too good not to.

Jane R said...

YUM! Thank you. I'm back on a foodie roll, so this is timely.

JayV said...

Oooooh, I'll have to try this soon! Especially with colder, Vermont Autumn weather! Cheers!

Bill said...

Sounds like an awful lot of work. I'm going to wait for someone who really loves me to make it for me.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill, it's one of the easiest soup recepies I have, but I'll make a batch for you.