What We Ate: Ginger Peanut Soup, Roast Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

By Mandy Simon

Having never really been an “outdoorsy” family when it came to vacations, the idea of camping is intimidating to me. This is something I’m being eased into by friends. A few nights on the beach in Assateague agreed with me and, next thing you know, I’ve agreed to my second weekend at a cabin in West Virginia.gingerpeanutsoup

Seven women, nearly a hundred pounds of groceries and too much alcohol all tucked together in a small, aggressively wood-paneled cabin could go in several narrative directions but there were no pillow fights, no slasher film screeching of strings – just food. Glorious food.

Since I don’t have the recipe for my friend Katie’s decadent lasagna or Sara’s fluffy whole wheat pancakes (ladies, maybe you’ll contribute in comments?), I’m stuck offering up only my own.

The seven of us divided up responsibility for the meals of the weekend and tag-teamed them. With my lovely friend Nada acting as sous chef, we created a menu of roasted chicken and sweet potatotes and ginger peanut soup .

I’ve made this soup several times and it never disappoints. Here’s the recipe I work from but I highly suggest tweaking it. I put in a little more peanut butter this time and a lot more broccoli and cauliflower. It makes the soup chunkier because, well, I like a hearty soup. The cayenne is a matter of taste, too. I say drop the bottle in but it’s whatever you can take.

For the chicken, we had about three pounds of chicken thighs that we roasted with (after seasoning with salt and pepper) olive oil, garlic, and a boatload of grated ginger. For good measure and because we had way too many for the soup, we threw some chopped onions on top. They caramelized nicely, actually, and the chicken turned out perfectly moist and tender.

We roughly chopped  the sweet potatoes and roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. They were a bit of a let down since they didn’t come out crispy but, hey, they’re sweet potatoes. I’ll eat them and I’ll like them.  This is, however, the second time I’ve attempted a crispy sweet potato and have ended up with something much mushier in texture. Can anyone help me out? I have a feeling it’s that I’m just too impatient and take them out of the oven early.

All this was washed down with various red wines and a Sam Adams variety pack. Perhaps a brand of beer that meets our commenters’ standards? No?

4 responses to “What We Ate: Ginger Peanut Soup, Roast Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

  1. I’ve never been able to establish crispy sweets without burning them, I don’t think it’s possible without deep frying them.

    That Soup sounds amazing!

    As for the beer, some beer fans have issues with Sam Adams, but I think they are solid outside of their few abominations (cranberry lambic, blehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh). Then again, I also think Budweiser is an under-rated lager in the beer fan community, and that the extreme beer movement is overstaying it’s welcome as the leader of American craft brews. My opinions do not match the norm.

    I would personally pair that peunut soup with a chocolaty stout (Young’s Double chocolate, Rougue’s Chocolate Stout or that crazy seasonal magic hat who’s name escapes me); Cayanne, peanut and chocolate, what could be better?

  2. That food was bangin’! I miss the cabin feasting already. Although, I must admit my dish load has decreased significantly and my fingers have finally de-pruned. Come to Baltimore (bearing soup) sometime soon!!

  3. Chargeorge:

    I’d have gone for a coffee porter before a chocolate stout, or a nice bottle of Heart of Darkness if you want to go the Magic Hat route. Now, to go with the pancakes, I can’t think of anything better than a nice cold bottle of Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat. Don’t know if that’s available in the DC area, though.

    Now, I’m not sure exactly what you mean by the “extreme” beer movement, but here’s my take on the current state of craft brewing: There are some breweries that are consistently better than others at coming up with interesting (and drinkable!) products. In my home brewing, I tend to put a fair amount of effort into highly-experimental brews: I want to see how far I can push the envelope, both on gravity and mash composition, while still ending up with a drinkable product. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes not so much, and for that reason I have a stack of lighter recipes that I know people like, and I try to keep a couple of those around at any given time. What I cannot abide is “craft brewers” who think that “craft” means “so heavily hopped you can’t taste the grain, or anything else for that matter.” I’m not going to name names of offenders at this time, but I will note that Dogfish Head did a great job with their 120 Minute of bringing hop levels up to nearly-insane levels without unbalancing the beer in the process.

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