Peanut Soup & The Georgia Peanut Tour

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What does peanut butter, a hurricane and this blog have in common?

They all came together in early October for a trip to Georgia’s peanut farms and processing facilities with the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Southern Peanut Growers.

Ok, so maybe I got out before Hurricane Michael actually rained down on the area, but the rest of that sentence is totally true. 🙂

When I was asked to go on a tour of by the Georgia Peanut Commission I was completely honored to be included and excited because I love peanut butter. I actually eat some almost every day on an apple and the peanuts grown in Georgia are most commonly used in peanut butter.


Peanut Butter peanuts, or runner peanuts (the real name), are typically uniform in size, which allows them to roast more evenly. They are most commonly grown in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina and Oklahoma. In 2017, Georgia produced more than 1.79 million tons of peanuts – 50 percent of the United States’ peanuts.

As the official state crop for the state, peanuts provide more than 50,000 jobs in Georgia with about 4,700 of those jobs accounting for peanut farmers.

Altogether, the peanut is an unusual plant. The plant itself grows on the ground, which for some reason, I never knew. I always pictured a bush or a tree.

The peanut plant flowers above ground and then it sort-of drills into the dirt and the peanut itself grows underground similar to a root vegetable. That blew my mind. I had no idea that’s how they grew.


Peanuts are also able to fix nitrogen from the air and the ground so often fertilizer isn’t used, AND they leave the nitrogen behind for other plants, which makes them a great rotational crop for biodiversity. Kind of amazing, right?

After 140 – 150 days, sometime in September or October, peanuts are ready to harvest – right in conjunction with hurricane season.

Our tour began at the University of Georgia – Griffin where we discussed the science behind working with peanuts and had an opportunity to taste test a peanut milk-like drink that was being developed as a nutritional supplement.

Then it was onto the Whistle Stop Café (the same one in Fried Green Tomatoes!) for some fried green tomatoes and real southern food. How could we not?

After lunch we met David Reed on his family farm where he farms peanuts and cotton fields lined by pecan trees.


On our second day, which turned out to be the last day due to Hurricane Michael, we went to the University of Georgia Tifton Campus to learn more about the National Environmentally sound Protection Agriculture Laboratory to understand peanut sustainability, safety and the multiple uses for the peanut.

On the property they have a fully sustainable home that serves as a dorm to graduate students and a greenhouse where they are working with peanuts to identify and create the best crops for the future.

The final stop in the journey took us to the processing plant were the peanuts are shelled and prepared for the buyers. The facility was amazing to see and much larger than I imagined. It takes a lot of work to shell a peanut.

On our last night together, we visited THE LOCAL Kitchen and Bar and ate a delicious peanut soup for an appetizer. The chef at the restaurant had created it from a West African Peanut Soup for us that he said became more like a gumbo. It was insanely delicious! I decided I wanted to try and make it at home.

As I started researching the recipe I found that peanut soup in actually a staple in diets in Africa but is also commonly eaten in Taiwan, Virginia and other areas throughout the world. Because I often like to combine flavors and tastes, I thought this was the perfect, little dish to pull the world together and it really turned into a cultural combo for me. It’s really one of the things I love most about food and experimenting with flavors.


This soup base is vegan, which is not something I normally do but I wanted to try and keep it that way. I did add sausage at the end, so you could see how it’s done if you want to make it more like a gumbo as mentioned while I was in Georgia.

Also, I know how it will sound when I suggest you combine peanut butter, tomato paste and collard greens, but I PROMISE this is good in a surprisingly delicious and filling way.

Grab the full recipe below and to find out more about peanuts, check out the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Southern Peanut Growers.

5.0 from 26 reviews
Peanut Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: West African/Southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 8 cups of vegetables broth
  • 1 cup of natural, smooth peanut butter
  • ¾ cup of tomato paste
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, chopped with ribs removed
  • 2 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. of sriracha
  • 2 Tbsp. of fresh ginger, ground or grated
  • 2 Tbsp. of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: Peanuts, brown rice, pico de gallo, cilantro, Italian sausage
Instructions
  1. Add olive oil to a large pot (preferably a Dutch oven) and heat. Then add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the broth to the pot and bring it to a boil.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter and tomato paste and mix well. Then add to the pot and whisk until its well combined with the broth.
  4. Add in sriracha and collard greens and simmer for at least 30 minutes. If you have the time, let it simmer for a full hour. You can also add more sriracha if you like things really spicy. Also add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. If you decide you want to add Italian sausage, cook it during this time in a separate pan. Also cook the rice at this time.
  6. After the soup has simmered, serve. Add it to the bowl with rice and top with pico, additional peanuts (these were a great crunch in it!), cilantro and sausage if you decide to go non-vegan.

Also, before I finish I just want to give a shout out to the wonderful people who organized this trip and the amazing ladies I had the pleasure of spending the tour with. Thank you all for your humor, wit, knowledge and for putting up with me as I totally freaked out about the hurricane. <3

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51 COMMENTS

  1. I would love to go on that tour. I love peanuts, but I’ve never really thought about how they’re grown or harvested. That soup looks tasty, too. I’ve never heard of peanut soup.

  2. I’ve always wanted to try peanut soup. You would think, that living in North Carolina, I would have tried it before. That tour looks like a great outing for the whole family!

  3. What a cool visit and so much great info. I never knew how much went into the growth and harvesting of peanuts. Now I have a greater appreciation for this delicious snack and great soup ingredient.

  4. A fully sustainable house, it would be great if these were a common way of life in the future! So much information I didn’t know. I’ve never heard of peanut soup. I didn’t know peanuts grew on the ground and I didn’t know the plants flowered. We are huge peanut butter fans here.

  5. How neat to be able to see how peanuts are produced. I’ve never seen peanut fields (living up here in the Northeast). I’ve never made a recipe like this before either, and it sounds like be good. It’s nice to make something a little different.

  6. I didn’t know that Georgia supplied so much of the US’s peanuts. This would be a fun tour to take. The soup does sound interesting.

  7. I don’t if I am more intrigued by the peanut soup or the Georgia Peanut Tour. I have never eat peanut soup, but you know I will be giving it a taste test right away.

  8. Peanut soup will be perfect if we start of with high quality peanuts! Oh my, looking at the photos of that bowl of delicious soup made my mouth water!

  9. I handed my kids fresh peanuts the other day and they had absolutely no idea what they were or what to do with them. I was amazed that I had never shared this with them. Well now they know.

  10. I would love to go on this tour visiting a local farm is one of the activity I do really enjoy. We’ve been visiting Georgia for years now but never came across to this place I would love to stop by next time that is for sure. What is that white thing plant is it cotton?

  11. How is it I’ve never heard of peanut soup. This looks really good. It looks especially yummy today as I sit here sneezing and feeling this cold coming on. Sigh…

  12. I love visiting farms and seeing what they have to offer. Your peanut soup looks so delish, my mum used to make for us peanut soup when we were younger but it was really different looking.

  13. What a neat experience and this recipe sounds yummy! I’ll never forget one year when we planted peanuts and I thought it was so weird that they grew underground like that! Looks like you had a lot of fun!

  14. This is such a great post! I loved to see all the photos form the excursion and how you tied this up with the recipe! I loved the way you told this story and my kids love peanuts so I will give this a go for sure!

  15. This is really interesting! We have families that feed the squirrels around us peanuts and they squirrels like to plant the peanuts in my garden. I’m always super frustrated about it, but maybe I’ll try to let it grow to see what it becomes.

    I’m sure the soup is actually very delicious. I’ll have to try it some time.

  16. I am always curious how peanuts are being planted and harvested, and it was so lucky of you to visit a peanut farm!
    PS I will try your peanut soup recipe soon with my Mom.

  17. It looks so much fun you have enjoyed. Its the first time I am hearing about peanut soup! The photos and recipes are amazing.

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