Delectable Thai spices and creamy peanut butter, plus shiitake mushrooms and ramen noodles, flavor this hearty vegetarian Thai peanut soup.
I’m typing this with 4″ of snow piled on the deck rail outside my window. Schools are closed, and snow-heavy leaves still clinging to their trees brought down power lines in spots around the city.
Ugh. It’s still November, Mother Nature. What’s up with this?
But, on the bright side, it’s the perfect day for curling up indoors with a good book and big bowl of warmth, like today’s vegetarian Thai peanut soup.
Non-food-bloggers probably wonder why we mention weather so often in our posts, as if we have nothing else to talk about, like two strangers on a long elevator ride. But really, here’s the deal: food is so closely tied to time and place and bodily comfort that it’s nearly impossible to separate it from what’s going on outside. To wit: it’s cold throughout most of the U.S. today: how many of you hovered over a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate or tea this morning?
Weather determines what food is in season, and as summer heat gives way to chilly autumn, we’re hard-wired to transition our cravings from bright, acidic tomatoes, snappy peppers, and leafy greens — foods that are perfect in their raw states — to the starchy carbs of fall root vegetables, tubers, and squashes that give noble purpose to our stoves and ovens.
So when it’s cold — and we’re looking at a low tonight in the single digits here in the Ohio Valley — my thoughts turn to soup. In fact, turkey bone broth has been simmering in my slow cooker all night long, so my entire house smells like the best comfort food restaurant you’ve ever walked into.
Vegetarian Thai peanut soup is the antidote to snow everywhere days like today. Delectable Thai spices, twirly ramen noodles, and just enough peanut butter to add a salty richness … this soup is comfort food warmth in a bowl.
- 2 tablespoons coconut or peanut oil
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
- 1 cup diced sweet potatoes (peeled)
- 1 small red bell pepper sliced (or red chili pepper, if you want it spicy)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk, well-shaken
- juice from one lime
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or, if you're not a practicing vegetarian, fish sauce, for extra umami)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3 packs ramen noodles (3 ounces each), discard the flavor packets.
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil to 4 or 5 quart dutch oven or stock pot over medium until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and peppers and stir to mix. Cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms have given off their liquid, and the sweet potato dices are soft.
- Scootch the vegetables aside and add 1 tablespoon oil to the cleared area. Add the ginger, garlic, curry paste, pimenton and turmeric to the oil and stir until it creates a fragrant paste, 30-60 seconds.
- Increase heat to medium-high, and pour in the stock and coconut milk and stir. Add the lime juice, soy sauce (or fish sauce), brown sugar, and sesame oil. When the soup just begins to come to a boil (bubbles break the surface), reduce heat to medium-low.
- Place the peanut butter in a heat-proof bowl, and add two ladles of the hot soup to it. Whisk until completely mixed, and add to the soup. Add the ramen to the soup, and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
- Add half of the green onions and cilantro to the soup and stir. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, and divide the remaining green onions and cilantro, plus the chopped peanuts, among the bowls.