Trying something new

Sunday, May 26, 2013
"C'est ton tour maintenant!
Allons, en garde, allons ah!
Toreador, en garde! Toreador! Toreador!"
-from "Toreador" by Georges Bizet

It’s easy, and comfortable, to get in the habit of doing the same old thing.  (See last week’s post.)  But it’s often new activities that give me energy and make me feel engaged.

Over the past week, I got to try a few things for the first time.  Last Sunday, Andrew and I attended a concert put on by our friend Laura, an opera singer.  She and three other soloists sang music from an opera they’ll be performing in Italy this summer, and it was stunning.  Hearing opera music wasn’t new for me, but the audience participation component definitely was.  Lyrics to three of the pieces, including “The Toreador Song” from Carmen, were printed in the bulletin, and we were encouraged to sing with the artists.  I can truly say that singing opera – in public – was a new experience for me.

On Friday night, we attended The Sonnet Show, a fundraiser for my friend Sara’s theatre company. Five playwrights were each assigned one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and had two weeks to write a short play based on it.  Fourteen lines – fourteen days – fourteen minutes.  The actors and directors each received the script on the morning of the performance and had one day to memorize their lines and stage the play.  That night, we walked from room to room in this heritage building, each room being home to a different play (in one case a musical).  The results were spectacular!

This week I was inspired by my youngest daughter to try something new in the kitchen, too.  The year-end project for her high school Graphics Class involved designing a menu and tent card for an imaginary restaurant of her choice.  She decided to create a restaurant that served international soups and stews.  As she created a menu, the food all sounded great but I couldn’t get the African Peanut soup out of my mind.  New, yes, but the flavours (sweet potato, ginger, garlic, peanuts) are ones I love.  When I replicated it for our family, I chose an Ellie Krieger recipe and I was happy with the results, as I always am.  Some things never change.

"So are you to my thoughts as food to life..."
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 75
Sweet and Spicy Peanut Soup
(adapted from The Food You Crave)

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large or 2 small onions, diced (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
6 cups low-sodium, chicken or vegetable broth
One 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots and cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the black pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more.  Stir in the sweet potato, broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in a regular blender in two batches and return the soup to the pot.  Add the peanut butter and honey and stir, over low heat, until the peanut butter melts and flavours mingle, about 10 minutes.  Serve warm, garnished with green onions and peanuts.


GratefulPrayerThankfulHeart said...

I like the flavors in this soup too ~ looks and sounds very good! Love to see the menu and tent card your daughter designed.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...peanut soup sounds pretty good!

Jess said...

Oooo, yummy. Now that it's summer I'm also starting to get a craving for my mom's gazpacho :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds yum. We love peanuts and sweet potatoes are so good for you. I may try it. You're such a great cook.

Anonymous said...

Sounds delicious! I have that book and am always happy to hear about a recipe that I should try.

Paula Montenegro said...

I´ve had african peanut soup on my mind after seeing it on tv. Sounds so good for me Beth! And I like how you embrace new things, it´s so necessary to evolve. Though I can´t sing the happy birthday, I wonder how I would do with opera? jaja

Angie's Recipes said...

I used to eat sweetened peanut soup for the breakfast..:-)
This looks so delicious and moreish, Beth.

Kitchen Riffs said...

I'll bet most of us haven't sung opera in public! Love the idea of the Shakespeare sonnet plays, too. But most of all I'm smitten by this soup - it's great! Thanks to you - and your daughter! - for the inspiration.

Valerie Gamine said...

I love every single ingredient in this soup! (It looks delicious!!)

Talk about a fun filled week! Although when it comes to opera singing, I'm not sure about the audience participation - did they screen people? (I'm sure my tone deaf voice would send everyone running to the nearest exit.)

Beth said...

Valerie, if they were screening people, I would have been waiting in the church parking lot. I just tried not to sing with too much gusto, or too much volume.

Belinda said...

Smart kid you got there! Great soup..always love trying new things in the kitchen (singing, not so much, for the sake of others, really....)

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, this recipe sure sounds like an interesting and intriguing soup recipe - I love that you try out new flavors and what an interesting week you had - it all souds so wonderful!
Have a fabulous Monday!

Unknown said...

I'm glad you had a delightful week with the performing arts. You're brave with trying new recipes. I sometimes try new ones, but it usually takes me a few attempts before I get it right, and during the failures I've seen some pretty strange expressions on my hubby's face! lol

Julie said...

Oh the flavors in this look so delicious. I am always trying something new, my husband teases we never have anything more than once. Have a great week.

Katerina said...

I love opera and although I cannot attend as many times as in the past, I can totally relate to your feelings. The soup looks very attractive and I am sure was enjoyed by all of you!

Amy said...

Sounds like you had a great time trying new things out, both inside and outside the kitchen. :) Wow, I love your daughter's creativity! This African peanut soup sounds like something fun to try.

Monet said...

Yes. New things can be good for our soul! I've never had peanut soup or stew before, but I'm sure I'd like it (as the flavors appeal to me already). Thank you for sharing Beth!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

New things are so exciting my friend :D
Good for you!
Lovely looking soup, it looks fabulous!

Choc Chip Uru

Cindy said...

This would be a new recipe for me to try. I have everything in the fridge/pantry to make it. The weather is cold and rainy--perfect. I think I will make it today!

Barbara said...

I confess, singing along with an opera singer is certainly unique!
I'd say you had an interesting week, Beth. The soup is unusual too, but I'd love those flavors.

Joanne said...

I love the idea of crowd participation during opera! Definitely a great way to get people more involved and into it. Maybe it'll start a trend? :P

I've made a soup similar to this before and the combo of sweet potatoes and peanut butter is really the best.

Needful Things said...

I have never heard of peanut soup before. So intriguing! And no exotic ingredients, which means I can try it out right away. Thank you for this inspiration!

Juliana said...

In Asian cuisine, there is peanut soup...sweet, usually served as dessert or snack. So interesting to see a savory one. I must tell you that this peanut soup sounds and looks very flavorful.
Thanks for sharing this recipe Beth and hope you are having a great week :)

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Blogging has helped me try dishes out of my comfort zone, but I tend to make the tried and true over and over. Your soup looks excellent!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I love spicy peanut sauces--soup would be amazing!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

I love trying new things in the kitchen, and i have to say that this soup looks absolutely wonderful! I could go for a bowlful right now. =)

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