Peanut Butter: It’s not just for breakfast anymore
Last year about this time, my daughter brought homemade peanut butter cookies into her 4th grade class for her birthday. Not only had none of the 23 children in her class ever had a peanut butter cookie, none of them knew what peanut butter was. Full disclosure: We were living in rural northwest England at the time, and were the only Americans in our village. But I was sincerely surprised that none of the little Brits, our pre-colonial cousins, had even heard of peanut butter, an American staple.
I am of the minority in thinking that peanut butter is best incorporated into savory dishes, rather than sweet. Even peanut butter and jam sandwiches don’t seem quite right to me. I get this notion from my 78 year-old father who has enjoyed a peanut butter, bacon and mayonnaise sandwich every Wednesday, after his men’s church meeting, for the past fifty-three years.
The paste that our culture spreads between white bread and smears with jam is truly an American anomaly—most European countries, save for the Netherlands (a country which refers to peanut butter as ‘peanut cheese’), remain unaware of its very existence. It is in African and Asian countries where ground peanuts (not peanut butter per se) fortify recipes, bringing flavor as well as protein, and needed fat.
So, Huzzah! West African Peanut and Chicken Soup, it is! Creamy, savory and slightly sweet (from the sweet potatoes) this soup lifts and satisfies the weathered, autumnal soul.
West African Peanut and Chicken Soup
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 piece ginger root, the size of a 42 year old woman’s index finger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 quarts chicken stock
1, 14 oz can plum or chopped tomatoes (unseasoned), with juice
1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs or combination, left whole
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