Thanksgiving, Williamsburg, and Peanut Soup

Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Historical-period interpreters at Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Thanksgiving sometimes reminds me of that year we had Thanksgiving dinner at the Marriott hotel in Bethesda, Maryland.  It came at the end of a long road trip, and I was very thankful to have a hot dinner and warm place to sleep!  And that memory gets me to thinking about all the trips we took to Washington, DC as a kid, which then reminds me of the time we went to Colonial Williamsburg, a really fun, living-history museum in Williamsburg, VA.  Interestingly, the one thing I remember most about Colonial Williamsburg was the Cream of Peanut Soup that was served with dinner at the King’s Arms Tavern.  Since I was just a kid, and had until then only associated peanuts with PB&J Sandwiches, I thought it was pretty cool that someone could make soup out of peanut butter and serve it for dinner.

So, in a roundabout way, Thanksgiving reminds me of Williamsburg and Peanut Soup.  I have no idea if we went there on the same (Thanksgiving) trip or if it was a different trip, but there you go.  Anyway, I’ll be making it on Thanksgiving day for an early lunch, along with a crudité tray of vegetable dippers, crackers, and cranberry-pomegranate bruschetta.  It’s really just the first course of a day-long feast, after all.

If you’d like to try this historic soup (allegedly George Washington’s favorite!), History.org offers the “official” Colonial Williamsburg recipe, courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

I’ve been making the Colonial WIlliamsburg Cream of Peanut Soup each Thanksgiving for a few years now, and I love it. I think it’s a little salty, though, so be sure to use low-sodium broth and unsalted butter.  Enjoy!

Cream of Peanut Soup

Peanut SoupFrom the King’s Arm Tavern
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Serves 10-12

Print 3×5 Recipe Card

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 8 cups low-salt chicken stock
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 ¾ cups light cream or half-and-half
  • Finely chopped salted peanuts, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, three-five minutes.

Stir in flour and cook two minutes longer.

Pour in the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the liquid to the sauce pan or pot.

Whisk the peanut butter and the cream into the liquid. Warm over low heat, whisking often, for about five minutes. Do not boil.

Serve warm, garnished with the chopped peanuts.

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