(Photo by Renee Comet for The Washington Post ; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick)

Plenty of recipes for peanut soup, which dates to colonial Virginia and has roots in Africa, call for peanut butter. Not so the version chef Drew Trautmann makes at Southern Efficiency, the District’s tribute to below-the-Mason-Dixon-line eating and drinking, in the Shaw neighborhood. “We like old recipes,” Trautmann says, so he was drawn to techniques that start with the nut itself. “The soup was around before peanut butter was.”

Soaking the peanuts helps them soften during cooking (they’re legumes, after all), and makes for a creamier result.

The soup is rich, so serve about a cup or even less. That way you’ll keep them wanting more.

Recipe: Virginia Peanut Soup

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