This soup comes from A Beautiful Bowl of Soup, a cookbook given to us by Aunt Debbie. I almost chose a chilled soup, as she did in July, but I love all things peanut-related and felt this was appropriate, as we live in Polynesia.

Polynesian Peanut Soup

This distinctive rich and creamy soup was inspired by a favorite peanut sauce. A friend shared the recipe with my over lunch on a South Pacific cruise. Just making it conjures up fond memories of a sunny deck, sensuous breezes, and the bright blue sea.

(makes 4 cups, 4 to 6 servings)

  • 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock, or as needed
  • 3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney**
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh jalapeño chili, or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (green parts only)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • Asian sesame oil, for garnish***

*Buy natural peanut butter with oil on the top; stir in the oil before using. Many processed peanut butters are hydrogenated to prevent separation and have sugars, salt, and stabilizers added.

**Chutney is a mixture of fruit and/or vegetables, often cooked with vinegar, sugar, and spices. Usually made with mango, chutney is found in most supermarkets; look for it shelved with either the condiments or dressings.

***Buy dark, amber-colored Asian sesame oil, made from toasted sesame seeds, rather than light-colored sesame oil, which is extracted from raw sesame seeds and lacks the distinctive strong aroma and nutty flavor. Purchase toasted sesame oil in the Asian section of supermarkets or in Asian markets. After opening, store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 6 months.

  1. Toast the coconut in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and ginger are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender. Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock, peanut butter, cutney, and jalapeno; puree until smooth. (It may be necessary to add more vegetable stock if the peanut butter is very thick.)
  4. Transfer the soup to the Dutch oven and stir occasionally over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste.
  5. Meanwhile, toss together the coconut, green onions, and cilantro. Drizzle each serving of soup with sesame oil and top with a mound of the coconut mixture.

Refrigerate this soup and the toasted coconut in separate covered containers for up to 3 days. When reheating the soup, stir in water to thin as desired.