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Friday, Aug 01, 2014
South Shore News

Soup and friends are a great winter mix

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Thanks to my friend Anita Jimenez, we now have six delicious soups in our refrigerator.

It came about when she turned a traditional cookie exchange on its head and organized a soup exchange.

Rather than swapping sugary treats, she opted to invite a handful of her friends, including me, to gather on a recent Saturday afternoon to sample and trade containers of nutritious – and yummy – soups. And there was a big bonus. In the process we got to spend time with good friends. What a lovely treat!

The concept was simple.

We were asked to bring a minimum of three quarts of our favorite homemade soup. Two of the quarts were to be divided into seven individual reusable containers. The remaining quart was to be brought in a slow cooker to share.

At the beautiful home of our host, Claudia Davidsen, our casual soup-swapping party began by sampling a small bowl of each offering. We also enjoyed artisan bread, cornbread, and wine – plenty of wine.

Every spoonful of each of the samplings was unique and fabulous.

The following soups were on the menu: red lentil with lemon, Spanish bean and beef, sweet potato with smoked sausage, rustic tomato, vegetable alphabet, kale-and-sausage potato and African chicken peanut soup. OMG. What a variety!

Carla Jimenez, Anita’s sister, told us she’s been making the classic African chicken peanut soup for years. It’s about as different from a traditional chicken-in-a-pot as you can get, flavored with garlic and chilies. Then of course there’s the peanut butter.

My only regret is that I waited this long to try it. What a deeply comforting soup to brighten any chilly, winter day.

Just when I thought we were done slurping, it was time for dessert.

And yes, it was more soup.

Ann Mohin won everyone’s hearts over with a refreshing, chilled cherry soup topped with a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt and splash of amaretto. It was the perfect end to a stellar afternoon.

Making a big pot of soup takes about as much time as making a small one. But you can tire of it before it’s gone. By exchanging some soup for what another good cook has made, you get variety and new recipes to try. I love this idea. Why not give it a try?

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.

African Chicken Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 cups onions, medium dice

2 large red peppers, medium dice

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 (28-ounce) canned tomatoes with juice

9 cups chicken stock

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 cup raw rice

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced

1/4 - 1/2 cup peanut butter

Salt to taste

1 cup coconut milk, optional

In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and cook onions, peppers and garlic until browned. Coarsely chop the tomatoes or squish by hand, and add then with the juice, chicken stock and seasonings. Bring to a boil than lower heat to low and cook uncovered for about an hour. During the last 15 minutes, add rice and chicken. Add peanut butter and salt to taste. Stir until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add coconut milk. Optional: for a lovely cream soup use an immersion blender.

Serves 6.

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