Sunday, February 26, 2012

Super Simple Peanut Soup with Vegetables

This soup is super simple to whip up, as the title suggests, but I actually first saw this recipe about a year ago, and it's taken me this long to make it.  Read on for the reason why.

  • 28 ounces vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup peanut satay sauce (such as Thai Kitchen)*
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 (12.3-ounce) drained and cubed package extra-firm tofu
  • 4 cups hot cooked basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional for garnish)
1. Combine the broth and peanut sauce in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Add the broccoli, bell pepper, and tofu cubes.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice.  Serve 1 cup soup over 2/3 cup rice in each of 6 bowls, adding 1 teaspoon cilantro as garnish to each serving, if desired.

Feel free to play around with ingredients; cubed tempeh, Gardein chicken, or Match pork would make excellent substitutions for the tofu, and you can swap out just about any veggies you can think of - fresh or frozen - for the broccoli and bell pepper.  Just don't replace the peanut sauce.  Here's why...

*The key ingredient to the original recipe for this soup was Taste of Thai's peanut salad dressing mix, a dehydrated flavor mix made primarily of sugar, coconut milk powder, peanuts, and spices, which is mixed with liquid (in this case broth) to rehydrate.

I first tracked down the dressing mix last spring, but puzzled over several of the ingredients - a heck of a lot of chemical and obscure sounding items like malic acid and sodium caseinate. I decided to double check with the company that the mix was vegan.  Many thanks to Taste of Thai for a prompt response, but I was alarmed to receive only a curt, "Sorry but it is not suitable for vegan diets."

This reply left me even more confused.  Which item wasn't vegan?  My best guess is the sodium caseinate (perhaps related to the casein protein from dairy milk) but note to vegans everywhere: put your peanut salad dressing mix back on the shelf.

I tabled the recipe with a sigh, as a result, although occasionally I found myself Google searching for an organic company making a similar peanut dressing mix.  Recently, I noticed a little jar of "peanut satay sauce" in the Asian section of Whole Foods.  It has the same main ingredients as the peanut salad dressing mix (coconut, peanuts, sugar), minus all the scary-sounding chemical stuff, and it's essentially the same thing except already rehydrated in water.  The best part?  The bottle is labeled as vegan.

I changed the quantity to reflect the fact that the Thai Kitchen version is already mixed into water, rather than a powder, but I am delighted to present to you at last this not-so-super-simple-to-veganize but super-simple-to-make peanut soup. 

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 cup soup, 2/3 cup rice), Calories 318 

Tasting Notes:
I am so pleased to say that this turned out exactly as I imagined, using peanut satay sauce instead of the dressing mix.  The peanut and coconut flavors were just right, and you get a crazy amount of flavor and spice from the sauce, without having to measure out tons of individual ingredients.  Because the soup is served over rice, it was more like a watery curry than a soup.  Next time, I would use half the amount of broth for something close to a thick stew, and serve over rice that way. I would also rate the soup much higher if I tinkered with ingredients, since broccoli and bell pepper aren't my favorite veggies.



  1. Made this yesterday and my brother suggested we cook the rice into the broth - it made for richer flavored rice and less watery soup!

  2. That's a delicious idea, and thanks for sharing! Will put that on my list of tweaks to try