West African Peanut Stew

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. After all, we are Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen, and these kitchens extend far and wide, all over the world. Tables that welcome the “Stranger as Christ”, kitchens that “practice the presence of God” as Brother Lawrence taught, and communities that are built by hospitality, love and prayer. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity.

Mepkin Abbey is a monastery of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists. We follow the Rule of St. Benedict and were founded in 1098 in Citeaux, France, from which we get our name “Cistercian.” As Trappists we are a cloistered contemplative community, worshipping God by chanting the psalms daily and seeking God in silence and solitude. Mepkin Abbey was founded in 1949 from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, the first Trappist abbey in America founded in 1848 from France.

We have the tradition of eating simple meatless meals. The recipes in “Food for Thought” are chosen with the eye to healthy, easy to prepare meals that met the needs of our tradition and satisfy hard working monks. Good healthy food contributes to the mindfulness of God that we seek as we give thanks for all God has provided us.

Lent is a special time, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday our main meal consists of bread and water. And in the evenings the brothers share a time of sacred reading of the Lenten book they chose, which was given in ceremony to each one by Father Abbot.

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West African Peanut Stew
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the stock, sweet potatoes, bring to a boil and then turn down heat to medium low so the soup bubbles gently.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, kale, beans and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes till potatoes and kale are tender.
  5. Stir in peanut butter and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve.

To Order “Food for Thought”, call Mepkin Abbey at 843-761-8509, prompt #2, for the Gift Shop.

Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

As we enjoy these cool crisp days, my taste buds long for a creamy soup to warm my body. This soup is a treasure. The smell of it is a potpourri to scent your entire house! It has become our favorite soup for the season. Recently, we served this as the first course to the luncheon we hosted pre-performance for Elements Theater Company’s performance of “All My Sons”. We received so many recipe requests, we thought we should share it. We are filled with gratitude for each of you. Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed Advent!

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Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
SERVINGS
6-8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1 1/4hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes or more.
  3. Turn off the heat. Add the diced apple and purée the soup with a handheld immersion blender until very smooth and creamy. Pour the blended soup into a clean pot.
  4. Add the honey, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and heavy cream and stir. Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you like a sweeter soup, add more honey.

Note: This soup thickens as it cools. If necessary, add a bit of cream to thin it back to desired consistency.

With thanks to Once Upon a Chef for inspiration of this recipe!

butternut-sweet-potato-soup-3

African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup

The other night, we made this tasty soup at the Convent in the form of a stew, with pieces of chicken thighs cooked into it, and chunks of sweet potato left intact. We loved the flavor so much that we thought we’d create our own recipe in a meatless rendition, something to relish during Lent. The result was wonderful! You can taste each subtle flavor: roasted peanuts, sweet potatoes, coriander, ginger, and tomato – a very odd collection! But when put together, a velvety and beautiful soup is born.

It’s very simple to throw together and with a little bread, cheese, and salad, you have a complete meal. Enjoy!

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African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup
SERVINGS
4-6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
20-30minutes
PREP TIME
20minutes
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat, sauté the leeks or onions in butter until soft and translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.
  2. Add the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts and coriander and stir well to combine.

 

 

Zesty Citrus Sweet Potato Wedges

Sometimes an interesting or unusual side dish can turn an otherwise plain or ordinary meal into a memorable one and take it to another level. This happened recently when I was preparing dinner for a guest who was on a very limited diet. She had requested plain broiled fish with no sauce and steamed vegetables. Along with this we offered her our crispy roasted lime infused sweet potato wedges, that had been brushed with marmalade just before going into the oven. “My meal could not have been more satisfying,” she told someone. “What I asked for was cooked perfectly to my liking. But what made it so extraordinary was that special and surprising taste sensation of those zesty citrus sweet potato wedges.” These are also great with a beef or pork roast, ham or chicken.

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Zesty Citrus Sweet Potato Wedges
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
45mins
READY IN
1 hr15 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes leaving skins on and cut into wedges. Marinate in the juice from the lime and it’s zest.
  2. Toss in oil with onion salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until crispy and golden on outside and tender inside.

Autumn Shepard’s Pie

Whenever we have Shepherd’s pie for dinner I know for certain that there will not be any leftovers for lunch the next day. Simple as it is, people love its old fashioned goodness, and even those who never take seconds can’t seem to resist having just a little bit more.

Just yesterday, I learned that sweet potatoes may be one of the greatest sources of beta carotene and Vitamin A – thus very good for you. So why not put a little autumn spin on our Shepherd’s pie and top it with tangy orange-zested sweet potato instead of white? I gave it a try and to my delight it did exactly what I what I hoped for……a thick golden crust that was gorgeous to look at and mouthwatering to eat.

Served alongside a mixed green cranberry vinaigrette salad this became a most satisfying homespun November supper.

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Autumn Shepard's Pie
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
30minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put meat, onions, salt, thyme, pepper and if available bone and pan drippings, in a pot or pressure cooker and cover with water.
  2. Cook or boil them until the meat and onions are both soft. Boil the liquid down until flavorful.
  3. Add the wine and thicken with flour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  5. Place meat mixture in a pie dish (the peas may be added) and top with mashed sweet potatoes.
  6. Bake until golden brown and bubbling through, about 30 minutes.