East African Groundnut Soup, Tomato and Kale Soup with Barley, and Focaccia

East African Groundnut Soup, Tomato and Kale Soup with Barley, and Focaccia

Here are the recipes from yesterday's party. They are all from Moosewood's "Daily Special" book, the soup/salad/bread one. As Joe says, "Wouldn't be a Kate party without soup." The peanut soup is one of those things that's oddly addictive; it doesn't taste like much for the first few bites, but then you just can't stop eating it. The focaccia is more of a pizza-crust type than my normal recipe, and it would make killer breadsticks with a bit more flour.

East African Groundnut Soup
3 cups chopped onion
3 celery stalks, diced (about a cup)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 green and 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 2 cups)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp garam masala or other curry powder
1 cup raw brown rice
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup peanut butter (natural, please!)
1 to 2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
chopped fresh cilantro and scallions for garnish

In a soup pot, sauté the onions and celery in the oil for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, until onions are soft and translucent. Add the peppers and saute for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cayenne and garam masala. Add the rice, tomatoes, water, and salt; stir well. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes until rice is tender. Whisk in the peanut butter, sugar, and lime juice. Serve with optional garnish.

Tomato and Kale Soup with Barley
1/3 cup pearled barley
1 bay leaf
5 cups water
7 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1/2 cup hot water
1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tsp minced fresh dill (1 tsp dried)
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp salt
2 cups loosely packed rinsed, stemmed, and chopped kale
ground black pepper to taste
fresh dill sprigs and crumbled feta for garnish (optional)

Combine barley, bay leaf, and water in a soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until barley is tender.

Meanwhile, place the sundried tomatoes in a small heatproof bowl, cover with the hot water, and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. While the tomatoes soak, warm the oil in a small skillet. Add the onions and garlic, and saute for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat and put aside.

When the barley is cooked, remove bay leaf and stir in the onions/garlic, canned tomatoes, dill, cayenne, and salt. Drain the sundried tomatoes, dice them, and add the tomatoes and the soaking liquid to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the kale, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Serve with optional garnish.

Focaccia (an interpretation of the real recipe)
1-1/4 cups warm water
3 cups white flour (I used bread flour)
scant 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

Use a mixer or bread machine. Dump all ingredients into the bowl and mix for about a minute. The dough will be VERY wet and sticky but do not add more flour. When it has become elastic and stringy, scrape it into an oiled bowl, cover, and put aside to rise for 2 to 3 hours. The longer and slower the rise, the better the focaccia will be.

When the dough has doubled, preheat oven to 500°F.

Turn the dough out and make two rounds, breadsticks, or just a big flat plane. It was so wet and sticky that I just put it on parchment paper and smooshed it into a sort of rectangle. There was no way it was going to shape into breadsticks without more flour. If yours is drier, dip your fingertips in flour and dimple the top; I couldn't get the dimples to stay put. You can add chopped fresh rosemary or garlic, Parmesan, olive oil, and/or salt at this point (I oiled/salted mine after baking due to the wetness). Let rise for 10 minutes, then put in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until done.



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