You are Top Chef

So of course we’re into Top Chef. And since we’re so into soups, I decided to challenge myself and make the African Groundnut Soup that Carla Hall made recently on the show. One of the most complicated things I’ve ever cooked, but quite tasty. (Three hours to cook, ten minutes to eat. So said the attractive nuisance.) Very satisfying.

But I have to say, the recipe was made both helpful and confusing by the video posted on the Top Chef site. In it, our fave, Rick Moonen, cooks the soup, but uses different quantities. I guess it was half the written recipe, but still… unnecessarily confusing. And good luck figuring out what chermoula is and finding it. (From what I can tell online, it looks like chimichurri and quite delicious, but I guess there’s also a dry spice blend. Hard to find. I used a spice called ras el hanout that seemed to be similar.) Not that any of you are crazy enough to make this!

African Groundnut Soup (Carla Hall)

Ingredients

Spice Mixture

  • 3 tablespoons cumin (ground)
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons coriander (ground)
  • 5 tablespoons chermoula spice blend (I used ras el hanout, which I think/hope is a similar spice blend, and was actually available at Whole Foods.)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Directions
1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, cayenne and chermoula. Set aside.

Broth & Potatoes

  • 3 tablespoons cold-pressed peanut oil
  • 3 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 6” ginger, peeled and sliced 1/4”
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (can)
  • 4 quarts vegetable stock 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • Cold-pressed peanut oil, to toss
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup peanut butter, fresh and unsalted
  • 1 pound Adzuki beans, cooked in water with 2 bay leaves until tender
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted peeled and diced
  • 3 red peppers, roasted peeled and diced
  • 10 plum tomatoes, roasted peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch mint
  • Lime zest, to taste
  • 1 cup peanuts (salted & roasted), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1 lime wedge per serving, juiced per serving

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Heat large pot on high heat. Pour in peanut oil, and then add onions. Sauté for 4- 5 minutes, then add garlic and ginger. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until soft and translucent, another 10 minutes.

3. Sprinkle in half of spice mixture, salt to taste and stir until mixed well. Pour in crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 1 hour. Strain broth, then puree solids with 2-3 cups of broth until very smooth. Strain through fine strainer.

4. While broth is simmering, reserve 2 sweet potatoes for garnish and dice remaining potatoes into 1/4” pieces. Toss in peanut oil, salt and pepper, and roast in 425 degree oven until just tender. Set aside to cool.

5. Place peanut butter into medium bowl and slowly whisk in 1-2 cups of broth until mixture is smooth. Pour mixture back into pot with broth.

6. Toss together cooked beans, sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, parsley and mint. Season with salt, spice mixture and lime zest to taste.

Assembly
1. In shallow bowl, pour broth, then spoon vegetable mixture into the center. Garnish with chopped peanuts, lime juice, lime salt (zest of 2 limes mixed with 1⁄4 cup Malden sea salt), and sweet potato chips. (Cut whole sweet potatoes into 1⁄2“ thick pieces. Use peeler to make thin ribbons. Fry in 300 degree canola oil. Salt to taste.)

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