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Take a step back in time with a classic Southern dish! Rich, creamy and smooth, this Virginia Peanut Soup is the old-fashioned recipe made famous at the taverns in Colonial Williamsburg. With one bite, you’ll quickly realize why it has been loved for generations!

Front shot of bowl of Virginia Peanut Soup on a wooden table with fresh parsley in the background

This born-and-raised Virginia girl couldn’t let another season pass without sharing one of my all-time favorite soup recipes. Just the aroma of this easy peanut butter soup simmering on the stovetop instantly brings back so many memories from my childhood! As a life-long Virginian, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Williamsburg, and it’s still one of my absolute favorite parts of our state.

What is Peanut Soup?

If you’ve traveled to Williamsburg, or even dined at The Hotel Roanoke in the southwestern part of our state, then you are likely familiar with this famous peanut butter soup recipe. Made with peanut butter and garnished with chopped peanuts, this soup is a staple of African cuisine, but is also enjoyed in East Asian cultures…and in Virginia!

The recipe that we have come to know in the southern United States tastes like smooth, creamy peanut butter with just a touch of savory accents (like celery and onion). The ingredients in Virginia Peanut Soup are quite different from the Chinese peanut soup or West African peanut soup loved in other cultures.

Overhead image of two bowls of peanut soup garnished with chopped peanuts

How to make Peanut Soup:

Knowing my love for peanut soup, my mom gifted me with a souvenir dish towel that was printed with the King’s Arms Tavern recipe after a visit to Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago. I’ve made a few tiny adjustments, but this authentic recipe still preserves the taste, texture and nostalgia of the original soup.

Ingredients for Virginia Peanut Soup:

  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Flour
  • Chicken broth
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Cream

First, sauté onion and celery in butter until soft (but not brown) — about 5-7 minutes.

Celery and onion in a large Dutch oven

Add the flour and stir for about 1 more minute. Then pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Process shot of making peanut soup in a large Dutch oven

Once the broth boils, remove the pot from the heat and use a hand-held stick blender, a food processor, or a blender to puree the soup.

Pureeing soup with a stick blender

Add the peanut butter and cream, then warm over low heat, just until the peanut butter melts (do not let the soup boil).

I use a jar of creamy store-bought peanut butter for a shortcut, but if you want to make your own natural peanut butter for this recipe, those instructions are included below.

Peanut butter and cream for peanut soup recipe

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with chopped peanuts, chopped fresh parsley, or sliced green onions.

Overhead shot of ladle scooping up peanut soup in a pot

What to serve with Peanut Soup:

In Williamsburg and at The Hotel Roanoke, the soup is offered as a starter on the dinner menu, or as a side dish with half of a sandwich on the lunch menu. It’s a rich, creamy soup, so just a small cup is the perfect amount before you get to the main course.

The soup is typically garnished with chopped peanuts, and some chopped parsley or sliced green onions add a bright, fresh touch. Serve the soup with any of the following classic Virginia-inspired dinners:

Alternatively, make the soup your entree and pair it with crusty bread or rolls, pumpkin bread (shown here), Virginia Spoon Bread, or a simple green salad. And don’t forget to finish off your meal with some authentic Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies!

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • How do you make natural peanut butter? I use a jar of store-bought peanut butter for this recipe, since that’s an easy shortcut that still tastes great. In Williamsburg, the taverns make the soup with homemade natural peanut butter ground from gourmet Virginia peanuts (a large kernel nut with a rich flavor). If you’d like to make your own natural peanut butter, place 4 cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and drizzle 3 tablespoons of peanut oil over top. Pulse to break up the nuts, then blend until very smooth. If the mixture is too dry, gradually add more oil by the teaspoonful. Season with salt, to taste.
  • How long will the soup stay fresh in the refrigerator? This soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • To reheat leftover soup, place the soup in a saucepan and warm (uncovered) over low heat until the soup reaches desired temperature. Be careful not to let the soup boil.
  • Can you freeze peanut soup? I don’t recommend freezing this soup, since the cream base can “break” when thawed — creating an unappetizing texture.
  • To prepare a smaller batch of soup, simply cut all of the ingredients in half. The rest of the instructions remain the same.
  • Is peanut soup healthy? Thanks to the peanut butter and cream, one cup of this soup has about 400 calories. For a lighter version without the cream, check out this recipe from The Washington Post.
  • Is the soup Keto? No, one cup of the soup has 15 grams of carbohydrates, so this is not a low-carb recipe for the Keto diet.
Long overhead shot of two bowls of Virginia Peanut Soup on a wooden surface

More easy soup recipes that you might enjoy:

Front shot of bowl of Virginia Peanut Soup on a wooden table with fresh parsley in the background

Virginia Peanut Soup

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 12 cups
Calories 409.7 kcal
Rich, creamy and smooth, this Virginia Peanut Soup is the old-fashioned recipe made famous at the taverns in Colonial Williamsburg.

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter (use a jar of store-bought peanut butter, or see note below to make your own natural peanut butter)
  • 1 ¾ cups light cream
  • Garnish: chopped roasted salted peanuts, chopped fresh parsley; sliced green onion

Instructions

  • Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft, but not brown (about 5-7 minutes). Stir in flour until well blended, about 1 minute.
  • Add chicken broth, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer broth uncovered for about 10 minutes (to allow the broth to thicken slightly). Remove from heat and puree with a hand-held stick blender, in a food processor, or in batches in a regular blender.
  • Add peanut butter and cream, stirring to combine. Heat over low heat, just until warmed through and peanut butter is melted (do not boil). Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with chopped peanuts, parsley and/or sliced green onion.

Notes

  • How do you make natural peanut butter? I use a jar of store-bought peanut butter for this recipe, since that’s an easy shortcut that still tastes great. In Williamsburg, the taverns make the soup with homemade natural peanut butter ground from gourmet Virginia peanuts (a large kernel nut with a rich flavor). If you’d like to make your own natural peanut butter, place 4 cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and drizzle 3 tablespoons of peanut oil over top. Pulse to break up the nuts, then blend until very smooth. If the mixture is too dry, gradually add more oil by the teaspoonful. Season with salt, to taste.
  • How long will peanut soup stay fresh in the refrigerator? This soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • To reheat leftover soup, place the soup in a saucepan and warm (uncovered) over low heat until the soup reaches desired temperature. Be careful not to let the soup boil.
  • Can you freeze peanut soup? I don’t recommend freezing this soup, since the cream base can “break” when thawed — creating an unappetizing texture.
  • To prepare a smaller batch of soup, simply cut all of the ingredients in half. The rest of the instructions remain the same.
  • Is peanut soup healthy? Thanks to the peanut butter and cream, one cup of this soup has about 400 calories. For a lighter version without the cream, check out this recipe from The Washington Post.
  • Is peanut soup Keto? No, one cup of the soup has 15 grams of carbohydrates, so this is not a low-carb recipe for the Keto diet.
Recipe slightly adapted from The King’s Arms Tavern.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 409.7kcalCarbohydrates: 15.4gProtein: 11.2gFat: 36.3gSaturated Fat: 13.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.9gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 52.5mgSodium: 875.4mgPotassium: 623.9mgFiber: 3.1gSugar: 6.2g
Keyword: peanut soup, Virginia Peanut Soup, Williamsburg Peanut Soup
Course: Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Never thought of adding peanut butter into a soup but this Peanut Soup sounds delicious. I hope you had a lovely week Blair.

  2. Dear Blair,
    Your recipe this week for Peanut Soup reminded me that while on a business trip to Richmond, Virginia 15 years ago, I was treated to the most wonderful lunch at a plantation style mansion which involved Virginia Peanut Soup and Mint Juleps (both a first for me). The drink was shockingly strong but the Soup, I LOVED it… I haven’t ever seen a recipe for it, since then and had forgotten… but I have printed out your recipe and will make it, thank you so much. What a heartwarming memory. Perfect recipe for the fall months, too.
    Marina

    1. That’s wonderful to hear, Marina! So many visitors have tried peanut soup here in Virginia (and loved it), but never think to make it at home. I’m so glad that I can rekindle fond memories with a simple recipe. Enjoy! 🙂

  3. Whodathunk? I’ve never heard of this, but what a frugal and easy to make recipe! Definitely going to try this one, we both like peanut butter. Would half and half work, or do you def need heavy cream? Hubs is going to think I am nuts, LOL!

    1. Yes — half and half should work fine. I hope y’all love it! It’s such a common, well-known dish here in Virginia, it’s always funny for me to realize that others think it’s weird. Hah! 🙂

  4. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe.

    As part of a history class field trip in high school (over 40 years ago), we had a full, colonial-style dinner at the King’s Arms, where peanut soup was par of the menu. It was so tasty that I’ve remembered it all these decades.

    Unfortunately, at the time, my mother would never make it at home, as she considered it to be “too fatty”.

    I don’t know why I never thought to look up this recipe before now.

    1. That’s a wonderful story, Jerry! I grew up loving the King’s Arm peanut soup, too. Such great memories! My mom never made it at home either (probably for the same reason as your mom), so this is now a treat that I enjoy as an adult. 🙂