“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
Several years ago I began a two and a half-year foray into veganism. As I committed myself, I decided it was high time to replace my 20-year old basic blender. It whirred margaritas well, but was useless for pureeing African peanut soup, or much of anything else that wasn’t liquid to begin with.
On a trip to Costco, I picked up a $99 Cuisinart with visions of creamy soups and homemade hummus dancing in my head. As my daughter and I headed toward the deli department, a woman demonstrating Vitamix saw the blender in my cart and knew that I was ripe for the picking. She was in the middle of mixing up a green drink and served them up like Tom Cruise at happy hour. It was surprisingly good for atomic green. For the next hour we stood like shills laughing at all of her cheesy jokes and “oohing” and “ahhing” over everything from tortilla soup, to dips, to silky ice cream made from frozen fruit—all made within minutes before our eyes.
Friends who were faithful Vitamix owners had been trying to convert me for years. There was NO WAY that I was going to shell out hundreds of dollars on a blender. I still didn’t own a flat screen TV, for crying out loud. Priorities, people. But as we stood at the holy altar of the Vitamix demo, my resolve began to wane as I calculated the long-term savings in food costs, and the benefit of knowing exactly what was in the food I was eating—not to mention satiating an ice cream attack in 30 seconds. I hadn’t made this big of a commitment since I signed the loan papers on my house. By the end of that hour, I had succumbed to the charms of a shiny new super-charged blender; my daughter also bought one to take back to her college dorm. Mary, the Vitamix lady, had a very good day.
Through the years, my use of the blender has been spotty. At first, the 64 oz. canister was just too big, so I only used it when I made soup. After Kate bought me a 32 oz. canister, I found I used it much more frequently, and was much happier with how the smaller canister tucked under my cabinets.
The blender makes silky smoothies from fruit frozen as hard as my head (my mother frequently suggested my head was made of carbon). It makes quick work of salad dressings, including one made with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic that tastes so good I have thought of eating it with a spoon, forgoing lettuce altogether. Now that the nights are getting cooler, it is time to put the blender to work on the aforementioned African peanut soup. The Vitamix makes short work of turning garbanzo beans into a creamy base for this comforting spicy soup—perfect for autumn or a snowy winter day. It goes together rather quickly and does not require a long cooking time, but the flavors really sing the next day. In addition to the optional cilantro and scallion garnish, I usually top with raw pumpkin seeds.
Warning: the next time you’re in Costco and there is a Vitamix demo, steer clear unless you have an iron will. If not, you can whip up everything from this lovely soup to homemade nut butter. Mangia bene!
African Peanut Soup | Serves 8 (And easily doubles)
1-1/2 T. Olive Oil
2 (15-1/2 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 3-1/2 cups freshly cooked chickpeas. drained)
1 (15-1/2 oz.) can organic pureed sweet potatoes, or 1 large cooked sweet potato
6 cups vegetable broth, or homemade vegetable stock
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 onions, chopped (I actually used 1 large–which is plenty)
4 large celery stalks, finely chopped
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (OR 1 tsp. dried ginger)
4 teaspoons curry powder
2 (14-1/2 oz.) cans diced tomatoes (use petite dice if you can find it)
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Raw pumpkin seeds
- Combine chickpeas, 1 cup of broth and the peanut butter in blender (I use my Vitamix and the 64 oz. canister; if using another blender, you might want to do this in batches), or use a food processor to puree
- Heat olive oil in bottom of large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and ginger; cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened (about 5 minutes)
- Stir in curry powder, cook another minute allowing the curry to “bloom”
- Add tomato paste and cook for another minute
- Stir in remaining broth, the tomatoes and their juice, cayenne, and chickpea puree; bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
- Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with cilantro, scallions and pumpkin seeds, if desired.
P.S. It’s also a lovely starter for Thanksgiving, or good the day after with grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches.
#Writing101, Day 17 (Mine your archives–this has been sitting around for a couple of years and has been edited for this assignment)