My idea for this farro, kale and peanut butter soup started with Lukas Volger’s peanut butter and greens sandwich from his latest cookbook, “Start Simple.” The sandwich consists of marinated greens, peanut butter and a drizzle of sriracha layered between two slices of bread that get toasted, a la grilled cheese. Though I was quite skeptical at first, I was hooked after my first bite, and have now borrowed that flavor profile for this soup — nutty, a little bitter and with a hint of spice.

While of course the peanut butter lends a great deal of nuttiness to the finished product, the farro adds to this dimension as well (and brings a delightful chew). Toasting the farro before it's simmered in liquid brings out even more flavor to contribute to the soup. Should you not be able to find farro, barley would make a good substitute, or perhaps even brown or wild rice.

Speaking of ingredients, I tested this recipe using creamy peanut butter, but I imagine any style of nut butter should do. Similarly, curly kale — or whatever dark, leafy green you fancy, such as collard greens or Swiss chard — is bound to be a suitable replacement for lacinato/Tuscan kale.

Lastly, when it comes to heat, including the whole jalapeño will lead to a prominent, but manageable, level of spice. Should you prefer a more subtle singe, you can remove the ribs and seeds when dicing the pepper.

Though this particular iteration of peanut soup was novel to me, groundnut or peanut soups and stews have existed in Africa for generations. Peanuts were brought to North American shores alongside enslaved African people, who carried their recipes for dishes incorporating the ingredient with them. As a result, peanut soup became part of Virginia’s culinary heritage, with that region’s version being directly derived from maafe, a peanut soup eaten by the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia, according to culinary historian Michael Twitty.

Although I’d never heard of the Virginia iteration until researching this recipe, African peanut soups have been part of the broader American culinary canon for decades thanks to the “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant” cookbook, which published a West African-inspired groundnut stew in 1990.

So did I just dream this farro, kale and peanut butter concoction up by turning a sandwich into a soup, or was I subconsciously thinking of groundnut stew all along? It’s hard to say. Regardless of the inspiration, I’m thankful for it and happy to share this recipe for a comforting, nourishing and one-pot vegan soup.

Make Ahead: To shorten the cooking time, soak the farro in water overnight. If you do, you can skip the initial 20-minute simmer and add the kale when you add the broth.

Storage Notes: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium (7 ounces) yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 cups unsalted or low-sodium vegetable stock, plus more as desired
  • 1 bunch (12 ounces) lacinato/Tuscan kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Step 1

In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion, jalapeño, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.

Step 2

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the farro and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring regularly, for 1 minute.


Step 3

Add the vegetable stock, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook, with the lid slightly ajar, for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.


Step 4

Add the kale and continue simmering, stirring once or twice, until the flavors come together and the farro and kale are tender but still retain some bite, about 20 minutes more.

Step 5

Stir in the peanut butter until fully combined. If you prefer a thinner soup, add 1/2 to 1 cup more stock to reach desired consistency. Taste and add more salt and pepper, as desired. Let cool slightly before serving.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 429; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 757 mg; Carbohydrates: 60 g; Dietary Fiber: 9 g; Sugar: 11 g; Protein: 16 g.


Recipe from staff writer Aaron Hutcherson.

Tested by Aaron Hutcherson; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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