Easy Virginia Peanut Soup has so few ingredients that you probably already have and it takes so little effort you’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor it has.
You all know how I like to provide some historical context to the recipes or food sometimes. And, well, this recipe is no exception. I wanted to find out who invented peanut soup or how it came into existence and how it ended up as one of the infamous Colonial Williamsburg recipes. There’s a bit of a twist to the story.
If I’ve been to one Virginia peanut shop, I’ve been to many! There’s something about those peanuts that makes them oh so delicious. And, sadly, you can’t get them everywhere. The Virginia peanut is different from others in size, at the very least, but it has the best flavor of any peanut I’ve tried.
But peanuts aren’t a native species to Virginia. They’re originated around the time of the Incan Empire and traveled the seas with European explorers. The Portuguese found them in Brazil and brought them to Africa where this hardy nut fed their sailors stationed along the coast of Africa.
I would just like to preface this next bit of narrative that it’s a historical account of peanuts, peanut soup, and how food slaves made has shaped American cuisine. It’s a tricky time right now and I’m not trying to make any kind of political or social statement here. Just trying to shed some light on peanut soup history.
Some think the Portuguese slave traders brough peanuts to the Americas. They served peanuts while they were on the long journey across the pond. And it was because the peanut was fed to slaves, it was regarded as food for the poor and not highly regarded as a staple crop to be grown commercially. Slaves planted peanuts throughout the south, which gave it the reputation for being a southern crop. This, combined with it having the reputation of being food for the poor and cumbersome harvesting techniques, meant it didn’t take off initially as a staple crop for the US.
At this point, I’d like to point out the irony that this peanut soup is pretty much served at every restaurant in Williamsburg, some parts of Old Town Alexandria, and other historical, colonial restaurants. If you went to a tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, or any of those other places, it’s not one of the colonial soup recipes you’d find on the menu. It was a slaves food and not readily eaten by white people.
Since most of the slaves came from Africa, the peanut soup pretty much originated there and was brought to the US when the slaves were. If you’ve ever had African peanut soup, it is oh so delicious! I made an African beef and peanut stew in the slow cooker that I devoured! I highly recommend you try an African peanut soup but only after you’ve made mine.
The slaves brought as many of their recipes from their home land as they could. And peanut soup was one of them. So, while it’s not a traditional Colonial Williamsburg recipe that would have been served to the mainstream population at that time it is one that should be celebrated. In fact, all the recipes that slaves brought from their home countries that pretty much shaped southern cuisine.
In fact, slaves brought watermelon, okra, yams, black-eyed peas, and some peppers to the Americas. The ships were filled with foods that they would eat and were familiar to them. Which meant they could be cultivated by the slaves when they arrived. And they could be used to cook foods familiar to them along with new ingredients and recipes created using a combination of home land and new home ingredients.
The ways in which slaves have impacted southern foods is substantial. They created gumbo, jambalaya, and Hoppin’ John. Not to mention frying fish and barbecuing meat which is essential to southern cuisine. Sweet potato pie and most sweet pies were something they created. Pies were savory in nature to preserve the meats. It was slaves that turned them into sweet concoctions. At least that’s what I’ve read.
So, you can find the irony in this being a Colonial Williamsburg recipe when actual colonials didn’t eat it. It was the slaves that did. And if they had, we wouldn’t have this delicious and creamy peanut soup recipe to enjoy and ponder those times when our nation was a baby.
My soup has flecks in there. Those are bits of carrot. I put onion, celery, and carrot in my soup. Some recipes don’t have carrot in there, but they add a layer of flavor that plays off the sweetness of the peanut butter. There’s also some cayenne in there, too. Because I think it needed a little punch in flavor.
I can’t stress how this is such an easy Virginia peanut soup recipe. I had it on the stove while I was working on a few other things in the kitchen. Sauteeing the veggies doesn’t take much attention. Probably the most attention I paid to the soup was cooking the roux. I wanted to have a nice golden roux that would make for an even more golden soup base. It’s worth the extra time to cook it because a deep roux brings out great flavor.
After that it’s simmer, add the peanut butter, blend, add the cream and simmer some more. If it’s too thick for your liking, feel free to add more chicken broth. Or more cream. Your choice. I like the richness. It’s a stick to your ribs filling soup. I am definitely making this again in the fall. Maybe for lunch with a delicious sandwich.
- 1 cup carrots cut into a small dice
- 1 cup celery cut into a small dice
- 1/2 cup onion cut into a small dice
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken broth, unsalted
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter and swirl until melted.
- Add the vegetables and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the last tablespoon of butter and stir until melted.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, one tablespoon at a time, and stir between each additional to prevent lumps.
- Continue cooking the vegetables 3 to 5 more minutes or until the flour is a light golden brown.
- Stir in the chicken stock and bring a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened.
- Add the peanut butter and spices. Use an immersion blender (or pour the liquid into a blend being careful as you blend) to blend the vegetables into a smooth and creamy soup. If you want your soup super creamy, you can pass it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
- Pour the cream into the saucepan and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
- Garnish with peanuts before serving.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 561Total Fat 49gSaturated Fat 24gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 101mgSodium 939mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 4gSugar 8gProtein 12g
Yeah, I'm not buying that. Seems rather high.
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