Monday, October 3, 2011


Well it's October. Don't ask me how it happened, I haven't a clue.  It's summer, everyone is warm and happy, you look away for one second and BAM! cold, damp, fall swoops in to put an end to sundress season.   Wasn't it only last weekend that I was sweating my butt off hiking through Gatineau Park on a beautiful 25 degree day?  Yep.  That was definitely only 8 days ago.  Regardless of what evil trickery brought it about, it's here now, and we're just going to have to deal with it. Autumn has arrived, and that means it's time to bust out the jackets and scarves, and it's also time to start making soup.

Lookout view over Gatineau park, Sept. 25 - the leaves just starting to turn

The really great thing about autumn (or as I like to call it "soup season") is that the fall harvest brings a bounty of produce to the local farmers markets.  So many soup possibilities await!  All of the produce in this warming, immune-system-boosting soup can be found at the farmers markets now.  You can make this in two ways: soup or stew.  I'll tell you how I made the soup, then what you can do differently to make it a stew instead!

Vegan Groundnut Soup 
Makes about 2 big meal-sized servings, or 4 small "on the side with a sandwich" sized servings

1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ground ginger
1 red pepper, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, diced
1-2 sweet potatoes, cubed (1-2 cm cubes)
Enough vegetable broth to just cover the vegetables
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 cup peanut butter (all-natural preferred)

In a large pot, saute onions with a bit of oil for a few minutes until they soften.  Add in garlic and ginger and saute for one minute.  Add the tomatoes and red peppers and saute until tomatoes start to break down.

Add remaining ingredients making sure to only put as much vegetable broth in as is needed to cook the sweet potatoes - you can add more liquid later, but it's more difficult to take it away.  Bring to a boil and simmer until sweet potatoes are cooked.

Using a hand blender, pulse soup to form a thick, creamy base while still leaving lots of chunks of vegetables. Alternatively, you can remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup and puree in a blender, then return it to the remaining soup.  Add more liquid if needed to reach desired soup density.

Stew form: Chop vegetables into larger chunks, do not puree at the end, and serve over rice.  Top with chopped peanuts and cilantro.  You may also add beans, tofu, or faux chicken to this stew if it pleases you.