Foodalogue and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks - centers around four key ingredients: green apples, bacon, nut butter, and vinegar. Participants have been tasked with creating any dish they like, using as many or as few ingredients as they please, as long as it incorporates some version of these four components.
For good or ill, I will cheerfully turn just about anything into soup, and this challenge has done nothing to discourage this propensity of mine. Here I took inspiration from a Southern American dish, goober pea soup, a peanut-based soup eaten by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The ancestor of this dish is of course West African groundnut, or peanut stew. Goober is an African word for peanut, an example of the indelible imprint that African ingredients and foods, via the slave trade, made on the cuisine of the American South.
Rather than use peanut, I used a cashew butter and paired it with maple bacon, and garnished my soup with diced green apple and balsamic vinegar. Think of it as a cross between peanut soup and a peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwich - only with a few twists.
When I went to plate this, the balsamic sunk like a stone, so I ended up plating it as you see in the top shot above - with the garnishes in the bowl and the hot soup poured over top.
Not exactly a diet soup, this - but worth every calorie.
Here's what to do:
In a stockpot, cook 6 slices chopped bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Saute a chopped shallot and 1 tablespoon flour in the bacon fat. Add 3 cups chicken stock and boil. Temper 3/4 cup cashew butter with the hot stock and add to the pot. Salt and white pepper to taste. Add most of the bacon - reserving some for garnish - back to the soup. Ladle over bowls with balsamic vinegar, diced green apple and bacon. Serve with warm crusty bread.
Make sure to check Foodalogue later this month to see what everyone else came up with.
I will see you kids in a few weeks - I am off to Lisbon and Madrid to eat, drink, and be merry!