Pretzel Soup with Peanut Roux
Bretzelsupp mit G’reeschte Grundnussmehl (in the original Pennsylvania Dutch)
from William Woys Weaver’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking (1993) based on traditional Pennsylvania Dutch recipes
Yields 6 to 8 servings
8 to 10 3-inch unsalted pretzels (8 ounces/225g) (I found these at a bulk food store, they were labeled Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels, they’re medium thickness as hard pretzels go, and this is equal to about a half a pound in weight, that’s how I ended up measuring, rather than counting out the pretzels.)
3 quarts apple cider
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sea salt
¾ cup unsalted blanched peanuts
3 tablespoons peanut oil
sea salt to taste
Break pretzels into small pieces and put them in a deep bowl. Cover with 3 cups of the cider and soak 1 to 2 hours. Transfer to a saucepan and add another 4 cups of cider, the butter, and the salt. Cover and cook over low heat until reduced to mush. Puree in a food processor until smooth, then pour the batter into a clean saucepan and thin to a vichyssoise consistency with 5 cups of hot cider – or hot water if the cider is too sweet. Bring to a gentle boil and serve hot with peanut roux drizzled over the top.
Now I stopped at this step and instead of the peanut roux, just used a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter in each bowl (easier and also gives the soup some texture) but if you want to recreate the roux, read on…
To make peanut roux, chop the peanuts in a blender until reduced to a powder. (Do not overprocess or they will turn to peanut butter.) Sift if necessary to remove the large pieces. Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the peanut flour 2 to 3 minutes or until it begins to brown. Drizzle over the top of the soup. Do not stir. The roux may be salted slightly to create a greater contrast of flavors.
Note: If the pretzels are not highly toasted, the soup may lack its characteristic nutty flavor. It may be necessary to toast the pretzels in the oven before using in soup. A little scorching will not hurt them.