Peanut Butter Soup is a family favorite that Shannon Yocom always associated with his NFL Hall-of-Famer uncle.
Bill Groman passed away June 17, only a few days after this interview. He was a wide receiver in the American Football League but, to Yocom, Groman was a fun uncle who loved Peanut Butter Soup.
Yocom fondly remembers when his uncle, a former Houston Oilers player, would come to town. He would always request the soup.
“He lived down in Houston, and when he would come to town everyone in the family would know that we had to make Peanut Butter Soup,” Yocom said. “It would bring at least half the family back together.”
Yocom picked up the recipe from his grandma, Winifred “Wini” Yocom. She remembered eating it as a kid, then re-invented it.
“It was a Depression-era food, because people didn’t have much. They did have milk, bread, sugar and peanut butter. They were kind of like staples,” Yocom said. “She told me that you went through your cabinets and make things up with what you had, and this was one of those things that she made up.”
The soup is not eaten in bowl, but on top of toast.
“There’s really not much soup about it, but that’s what they call it,” Yocom said. “You don’t want it runny. You want it thick. Runnier than peanut butter, but thicker than soup.”
Grandma Wini lived in the Tiffin area and would babysit the children. It was during those days as a kid that Yocom so fondly remembers regularly having her Peanut Butter Soup.
He was such a fan, he committed it to memory.
“This was the first time it was written down. It was just kind of oral,” Yocom said.
He did write it down once before, as part of a high school advanced English class. He received an A on the paper. He still has the paper.
Today, Yocom is a production manager in graphic design at Interrupt, a branding agency.
“We’re strategically focused on building materials only. Anybody that sells building materials could be a potential client of ours,” Yocom said.
Shannon and his wife Jenette live in Bowling Green. You can often find them at auctions or working together on an up-cycling furniture project for their house.
“My grandparents ate a lot of this during the Depression, because it was cheap to make and it was nourishing,” Yocom wrote in 1991.
“It’s all very simple. It’s just really the butter, peanut butter, the sugar and milk, and milk and milk,” said Jenette Yocom, Shannon’s wife.
No one knows why Grandma Wini added the sugar. They speculate that it’s because peanut butter back in the Depression didn’t have sugar added.
“But that’s pure speculation. She did what she did and we keep doing it,” Shannon said.
He also recommends a tall glass of water with the soup, because it’s thick.