Here are suggestions for replacement ingredients for peanuts in Chinese soups
One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory. In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other. Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states. Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping). Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).
One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.
You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.
Principles for soup making for peanut replacements…
My selection of replacement ingredients are primarily based on a few factors:
- Maintaining the same flavour profiles that peanuts would otherwise provide (that rich, earthy, dark tone)
- Staying with ingredients that are still vegetarian (or vegan)
- Pantry friendly ingredients make replacing easy. Peanuts are an easy ingredient to use (especially prepared peanuts), so to mirror the same effort, it is important that I’m not creating more work in soup making!
Research suggests that avoiding all nuts is overkill…
According to a 2017 article published in Forbes, “most people with a peanut allergy aren’t allergic to tree nuts—almonds, cashews, walnuts and the like—while most people who are allergic to a particular tree nut can safely eat others, scientists have found.” [Reference 1]
And from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “Fewer than 5-10% of peanut allergic people have an allergy to other legumes. The majority of individuals with peanut allergy are also able to tolerate tree nuts (almond, Brazil nut, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut).” [Reference 2]
What other ingredients have worked for you to replace peanuts (for allergies) in Chinese soups?
Why I like using other tree nuts (in replacements of peanuts) in Chinese soups…
- You can buy them fresh from the supermarkets. I’ve tried both pre-roasting and non-roasted for soups. Equally delicious, but also equally quite a bit of work!
- You can buy prepared chestnuts (pre-roasted or pre-peeled). They are usually sold as snacks and come in the perfect portion. I will also keep a stash of this in my pantry. (LOL, the more I post, the more I realize I have so many things in my pantry on a regular basis… I may as well become a supermarket).
TIPs for extracting chestnuts:
- Use a heavy knife (or hammer) to hit the chestnuts directly to split them open. You may need a few entry points, but once you feel the chestnut can split from its shell, that’s perfect.
- I don’t mind keeping the outer skin of the chestnuts. It will eventually come out during cooking as it shrinks differently from the chestnut flesh itself. You can remove this after roasting or boiling in soups.
- Fresh chestnuts are firm and completely filled in its shell. As the chestnut dries out, you’ll be able to feel air pockets in it as you squeeze on them. When the chestnuts aren’t fresh, they aren’t as flavourful, but can still be used. Just use more! So long as they haven’t gone bad.
Why I also like dried mushrooms…
Some dried mushrooms carry that same rich, earthy tones that peanuts can also produce. This allows the peanut replacement to hold the same flavour profile as the soup was originally designed for. For examples:
- If I’m using lotus roots (or arrow roots), adding mushrooms is quite complimentary and eliminating peanuts doesn’t change the taste of the soups.
- Ritalrubin@gmail.com (2017) Avoiding all nuts simply because you’re allergic to one might be, well, Nutty, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ritarubin/2017/03/28/avoiding-all-nuts-simply-because-youre-allergic-to-one-might-be-well-nutty/?sh=71cfab0d4a1b (Accessed: 27 November 2023).
- Everything you need to know about peanut allergy (no date) American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/peanut-allergy (Accessed: 27 November 2023).