Considered a southern delicacy in some parts of the country, peanut soup in America dates back to the early 1700’s. For decades, peanut connoisseurs have speculated about how this soup arrived and gained popularity in the United States. A recent article in the Seattle Weekly investigated the historical past behind peanut soup.
History shows that peanuts have been around since the Incan Empire. Peanuts are thought to have been brought to America by the Portuguese slave traders who served peanuts while they were in transit.
Hannah Raskin, columnist at the Seattle Weekly said, “… the slave diet would have included peanut soups, mushes and stews, perhaps styled after the tomato-based soups popular in central Africa or a Sudanese soup made with lamb bones, garlic and rice.”
However, it is still a mystery to how peanut soup became a popular dish at fine dining restaurants across the country. The first known recipe comes from an 1847 cookbook by a Sarah Rutledge, a housewife from South Carolina, who published a recipe for Ground Nut Soup. Her recipe includes a pint of oysters and peanuts ground with flour. After her book was published, several other variations of the soup appeared in newspapers and cookbooks.
In 1941, the National Peanut Council published a collection of peanut soup recipes from George Washington Carver. He is believed to have had the largest collection of peanut soup recipes during that time, including recipes for peanut bisque, peanut soups, a consommé, and purees.
Peanut soup became popular in American homes in the early twentieth century, as peanuts and peanut butter became available at grocery stores across the country.
Peanut soup is now served at several fine dining restaurants, America Eats Tavern in Washington D.C. and Wit and Wisdom in Baltimore both feature the soup on their menus. And recipes for a variety of peanut soups abound on websites like AllRecipes.com.
To learn more about peanuts and the history of peanuts, please visit our facts page.