Thai peanut curry is a popular dish that most people have heard of. West Africans also enjoy a hearty peanut stew, thick with chickpeas and sweet potatoes. But it came as a surprise to this cook that peanut soup was once a staple, well-known to American cooks over 100 years ago. In the early 1900’s, a prominent African American scientist named George Washington Carver invented peanut soup, among 300 food, commercial, and industrial products using peanuts. These inventions included cooking oil, medicines, cosmetics and insulation. Carver even believed peanuts could cure polio. Carver’s inventions brought peanuts into American homes.
The 1914 Hamilton Cook Book, compiled by the ladies of First Methodist Episcopal Church in Hamilton, Ohio, includes a version of cream of peanut soup. You can try this fun, vintage recipe with just a handful of kitchen staple ingredients and a few easy steps.
According to the National Peanut Board, George Washington Carver did not actually invent peanut butter but he was respected for his own inventions with peanuts. Carver worked with the inventor of peanut butter and with Harvey Kellogg who created Kellogg’s cereal, on the team that popularized the new product. Here’s a list of George Washington Carver’s 105 favorite recipes using peanuts. This list is posted along with tons of fun facts about peanuts on the website for the National Peanut Board. The top five recipes on the list are variations on peanut soup but Carver’s list also includes peanut sausage and peanut macaroni and cheese. Carver invented these recipes during his time as the Agricultural Director at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.