Spicy Peanut Soup

Adapted from The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Preparation time for the whole thing: About 45 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 cup good plain peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
4 cups boiling water
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups minced onion
10 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt (Use less, if peanut butter is salted)
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (maybe more--to taste)
2 cups buttermilk (at room temperature)
  1. Place the peanut butter and honey in a medium-sized bowl. Add about half the boiling water, and mash with a spoon until it becomes smooth. Whisk in the remaining hot water and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a soup pot or a Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, salt, and ginger. Saute over low heat for about 10 minutes, then add the spices. Continue to cook and stir for about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Stir in the peanut butter mixture and cover. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat way down and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare the topping. (Recipe follows.)
  4. Just before serving, heat the soup again (if necessary) and whisk in the room temperature buttermilk. Serve right away, with a small spoonful of Banana Topping in each bowl.

Banana Topping

3 fairly green medium-sized bananas
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons peanut oil
a pinch or two of cinnamon
A dash of salt
  1. Peel the bananas and slice them at 1/4-inch intervals. Place them in a shallow dish and drizzle with lemon juice. Let stand about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy skillet. Add the bananas, including all the lemon juice, and saute on each side for about a minute. Dust lightly with cinnamon, sprinkle with a little salt, stir gently, and remove from heat. Don't worry if the banana slices lose their shape.
  3. If you haven't inadvertently eaten all of these delicious banana pieces directly from the skillet, add a small spoonful of the topping to each bowl of soup.
  4. If you have eaten them all, return to Step 1 and start over.
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