the perfect soup recipe

Cookbook Review and West African Cashew Soup

I was contacted about reviewing a cookbook called “The Real Food Diet Cookbook” by Dr. Josh Axe.

I said yes immediately because it is something I can get behind: Real Food. You can read his bio here.

Saturday night I created this recipe:

West African Cashew Soup

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 cup cooked, diced chicken breast

2/3 cup onion, diced

1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups free-range chicken broth

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 can stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup cashew butter

Directions:

1. Heat sesame oil in large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent.

2. Add all seasonings and cook 1 minute more.

3. Add chicken, broth, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes and cashew butter. Stir until well combined.

4. Continue cooking until heated through.

When I was flipping through the cookbook this was the first recipe that jumped out at me. I have no idea why because honestly the Cashew Butter would have deterred me. I don’t cook with peanut butter much (unless in baking). But this recipe spoke to me and I wanted to do it. I am so glad I did, too! It was probably one of the best things I’ve made in a long time.

Michael wasn’t feeling well so he wasn’t going to eat any of the soup (which was a shame because it was amazing). He did try a spoonful to taste it and said it was fantastic. Anyway, back to the kitchen..I set up some mood music for my cooking adventure.

I got out all the ingredients and then realized I didn’t have stewed tomatoes–just diced. I wasn’t sure if that was considered the same, so back to the grocery store I went (for a 79 cent item). The sesame oil was surprisingly expensive, too, which I wasn’t expecting. I lucked out and found curry powder on sale (50% off) because that was also pricey. We had leftover rotisserie chicken from Friday night’s dinner so that’s what I used in the recipe instead of the plain chicken breast.

The sesame oil smelled wonderful in the hot pot. It reminded me of Chinese food. I added the diced onion to the pot.

There is nothing better than the aroma of onion and spices sauteeing in a pan.

The recipe didn’t call for zucchini but I wanted to add a vegetable to the soup so I improvised. I also learned from past errors when cooking and made sure everything was chopped, minced, prepped, and measured out BEFORE I started cooking! Progress!

The cashew butter was creamier and more liquidy than peanut butter and was so much easier to measure. I’ve never tried cashew butter but it was a pretty tasty alternative to peanut butter. (I can see me trying the cashew butter with apples in my near future.)

I minced the garlic and added it to the onions. As I moved it all around the pot to coat evenly with Sesame Oil, I added the spices. Curry Powder:

Salt, Pepper and the zucchini:

I mixed it all around. I should have added the zucchini at the same time as the onion but it was still mostly cooked by the time the soup was done. Live and learn. I added red pepper flakes:

It smelled so amazing by this point. I was feeling really confident about the recipe. Next up, added the chicken:

The recipe could have used a little bit more chicken.

I added the chicken broth and tomato paste, plus the can of stewed tomatoes (don’t drain the liquid).

I was a bit worried at this point…the confidence I had for the recipe was faltering. It was too liquidy! I had hoped it would be a creamier soup. I decided to just let it be and not alter the recipe in any way. I added the cashew butter and mixed it all together.

Once the cashew butter started to melt it thickened up the soup very nicely. I added a little more salt and pepper and a dash of more curry powder and continued to taste it to see if it needed anything more.

I poured myself a glass of red zinfandel wine while it cooked. I toasted a piece of Dave’s Killer bread to go with dinner.

Finally the soup was ready.

It’s probably the most delicious meal I’ve ever made.

I can’t get over how tasty the soup is! It’s creamy and spicy and the rotisserie chicken went really well as a substitute for the chicken breast. I’m also glad I added the zucchini. Having the vegetable in the soup made it heartier.

This is the first recipe I’ve tried from the cookbook. So far the cookbook is a success based on the West African Cashew Soup alone!

A few things I DON’T like about the cookbook:

  • The calories aren’t listed
  • None of the recipes have servings sizes…I had to guess about the soup…my guess is 8 servings??
  • It looks like a few of the recipes call for very strange ingredients that might be difficult to find (and expensive)

The GOOD things about the cookbook:

  • Recipes with fewer ingredients
  • Beautiful color photos of every recipe
  • Brief, to the point directions on how to make the recipe (huge with me!)
  • The soup was amazing!!!

I’m looking forward to trying the other recipes. I’ve already picked out 5 that I MUST try as soon as possible.

Dinner was so amazing. I spent the rest of the evening feeling VERY proud of myself for making such a successful dish. I know it’s tecehnically just “following a recipe” and “anyone can do it” but I can’t tell you how many kitchen distasters I’ve experienced. “Just following a recipe” doesn’t mean it will be a success!

This was a major success. I hope some of my readers try this recipe!

QUESTION: Have you ever made anything similar to this? What else can I add to this soup?