Tuesday, September 3, 2013

African Peanut Soup

I know exactly what you are thinking....the last ingredient you could possibly think of, when making soups, is peanuts, right? When I was coming up with a list of soups to make this month, this soup came across as a total surprise. Of course, I was a bit hesitant about the idea of using peanuts/peanut butter in soups. Don't get me wrong, I love peanut butter, but it was just hard to imagine how it would work in a soup. Anything is worth a try, what do ya say?? So, here's the african peanut soup making its way to Mofo Post 2.

Most of you probably know that peanuts are not technically nuts but rather belong to the legume family. They contain similar nutritional value and so, they are conveniently considered as nuts. Peanuts are a good source of protein and dietary fiber.

Peanut soup is common throughout Africa and has several variations based on the region. It is normally served during celebrations or special occasions. This soup is slightly thick and more stew-like. It is traditionally served over rice/Fufu (starchy accompaniment for stews or thick sauces) or one of its variants. The main ingredient of Fufu is usually a grain like millet or corn, or a tuber vegetable like cassava or yams. Fufu is made differently all over Africa although they commonly involve boiling, pounding and stirring until the fufu resembles a thick and smooth texture. 

The rich and creamy texture from the peanut butter with a bit of heat from the cayenne pepper makes this soup irresistible. Peanut lovers, here's a recipe that is sure to become one of your favorites!!


1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
2 big tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup natural peanut butter, chunky or smooth (I used chunky)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 
Salt, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper powder (optional)
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped (for garnish)


In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic until the flavor releases. 

Add onions and ginger and sauté  until the onions are soft and translucent, for 4-5 mins. 
Add the sweet potato and cook for few mins. 

Add tomatoes, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir well and cook until the tomatoes get a bit pulpy. Add the vegetable broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins or so. 

In a bowl, add the peanut butter and a ladle of the hot soup and whisk well until the mixture is smooth. You can either add this mix directly to the soup or set aside.

Remove the soup from the heat. Use an immersion blender (my preferred method when making soups) or food processor and pureé the soup until smooth (you can partially leave it chunky or skip this whole process if you like your soup to be chunkier).

Return the soup back to the pot and mix the nut butter mixture into the soup until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 12-15 mins. If you find the soup to be thick (the way its meant to be), you can add a little more broth. 

Note: This soup should be thick and smooth.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions and chopped peanuts. This soup can be served as-is or over rice to make a complete meal.


For variation, you can add carrots or yams instead of sweet potato, green or red bell pepper, collard greens/kale (west african soup version). Add some warm spices like cumin/ coriander/cloves/curry powder for a spicy & flavorful twist.

Makes 3-4 servings.

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