If Virginia had an official state legume, it would be the peanut. Virginia peanuts are bigger and fuller-flavored than any others, and nowhere else will you find peanut soup. Versions of it are shockingly diverse, from an elegant broth to a rib-sticking meal. Our gold standard was set by The Southern Kitchen, a modest town lunch room where it is creamy but not too thick, nutty-flavored, and laced with fetching onion sweetness.
To make it more of a major rib-sticker, stir in a cup of cream or condensed milk at the very end of the cooking process, just before serving. Or, if you want to give it a streak of luxury, lace each serving with a shot of sherry just before garnishing with peanuts.
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced green onion
6 cups chicken stock or broth
4 teaspoons flour
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons chopped, salted peanuts as garnish
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add celery and onions. Cook until they are tender but not brown. Stir in the chicken broth and bring it to a boil for one minute. Strain. Return to saucepan. Cool to room temperature.
Mix the flour with just enough cool water to form a paste. Stir the paste into the broth. Blend in the peanut butter. Simmer slowly 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a cup of cream if desired just before removing soup from heat.
Serve hot. Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of chopped salted peanuts.