Salt and Paper: Vegetarian West African peanut soup

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If there’s one thing university tends to be synonymous with, it’s a decline in health. This is true for those who arrive and rely on cafeteria food and alcohol for sustenance — particularly on this cold mountain of ours where culinary options are limited.

An appropriate solution is this: create wholesome dishes that will nurture stressed student bodies. This column, appearing here every other week, will aim to tell stories, share recipes and seek out fellow foodies.

Post-holidays, January comes rushing in with its cold wind and seemingly endless wall of bleak, winter months. The days are shorter but feel longer, and this makes for a three- or four-month period when all we can do is hope for spring.

There are a few remedies to the SADs that January brings with it, though: a hot cup of tea, a good book, and a big, steaming bowl of hearty soup.

If anything, winter is a good excuse to stay inside and cozy up with a good novel (or textbook) and to perfect some homemade soup recipes. I offer this one up as the first in a series of delicious and easy recipes that — I hope — will warm you through to the end of these dark months (and exams).

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It sounds like a weird combination, but trust me on this one. The spicy, peanut-y flavours balance out the tomato base, and chard or kale lend a bit of colour. Don’t slam it until you try it.

• 1 tablespoon oil (I prefer coconut)

• 6 cups vegetable broth

• 1 medium red onion, chopped

• 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger (or powdered ginger)

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 bunch kale or chard, chopped into 1 inch strips. Go with your gut on how much you want to toss in.

• 3/4 cup unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth)

• 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

• Hot sauce, like Sriracha

• 1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish (optional)

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Add oil to a pot and add onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add salt, then broth, and then bring to boil. While broth is warming, whisk peanut butter and crushed tomatoes in a separate bowl. Add some of the heated broth and whisk to incorporate; add this mixture to the pot. Lower heat to medium low. Add as much or as little hot sauce as you’d like — I like mine spicy, so I added about 1-2 tablespoons. Toss in the chard or kale, and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Garnish with crushed peanuts if you’d like.

*Recipe adapted from cookieandkate.com

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