I love to make big pots of soup this time of year. The house just feels cozier with something good smelling simmering on the stove all afternoon, you know? However, given that the habit of making a big pot of soup for dinner starts sometime in October, it begins to wear thin with some members of this household about this time of year – sort of like the grey sky or the weather forecast with the words snow or ‘polar vortex’. They’re just done with all of it. It certainly doesn’t help that I expect said pot of soup to serve as dinner a few days in a row as well as maybe even some lunches during that stretch. Change is needed and the easiest place to make it happen is the dinner table.
Which brings me to what we like to call ‘peanut butter noodles’. The sauce could not be easier and it’s made of things that I always have on hand. Peanut butter? check. Soy sauce? check. Garlic, ginger & vinegar? check.
I round it out with some steamed or quick sauteed veggies like carrots, a staple in this house & broccoli, which pairs wonderfully with the sauce. Sometimes I’ll add a handful of nuts and maybe some tofu for protein as well. It can be eaten hot or cold, leftovers pack nicely for lunch – I’ve even been known to just dip veggies or boiled tofu (especially boiled tofu) in the sauce & eat it up that way. It’s nice with rice noodles, but plain, old regular pasta works too. Have I sold you on it yet? Good.
(Adapted from Gourmet’s “Spicy Peanut Sauce”, April, 1996)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup onions, shallot or scallions, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 healthy-sized hunk of ginger, grated
1 cup water or broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar (white, apple cider or even rice vinegar are all lovely)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1-3 tablespoons brown sugar
Hot pepper flakes or siracha to taste
Heat oil in saucepan & add onions. Stir for a minute, add garlic & ginger, stirring for about another 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Stirring, simmer until the sauce is smooth and starting to thicken. Yield about 2 cups.