West African Peanut Soup

West African Peanut Soup14479589_356481904690452_8565524053409250890_n

If you’ve never heard of this, it may sound weird.  And offhand, a vegan, spicy, peanut buttery soup may not sound like comfort food.  It really is, though.  If you’ve never made African food, this is a great place to start.  The flavors are familiar enough, but a much appreciated change up from traditional soups like minestrone or chicken noodle. 

Because this soup doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, please use fresh garlic and ginger.  It really makes a difference.  The original recipe I used for this didn’t include sweet potato and or lentils, but I think it makes the soup feel more like a meal.  Regular white potatoes could be good in here instead of the sweet.  Also, garbanzo beans would be a tasty substitute for the lentils.  The original recipe also did not include the curry powder or Ras El Hanout (available on Amazon), and you don’t have to add them, but it adds a warm spiciness that I love.  

This soup involves making a slurry.  A slurry just means that you’re using some of the hot stock to thin out the peanut butter and tomato paste.  That way, when you add it back to the soup, it mixes evenly and smoothly, and you don’t end up with chunks of peanut butter.  You should do this any time you’re adding something thick to something brothy.  I’ve skipped that step before and added it directly to the soup, and it did not turn out right.

Like many of my dishes, this may not be 100% true to the original, but it’s delicious.  It takes about 1 hour to cook, but like most soups, it gets better the longer it simmers.  This is yet another recipe can be served over Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice.  The good thing about the rice is that you can either cook it alongside the soup, or you can even cook it the day before and store it until you need it.  Serve it with a torn piece of Naan bread and some chopped peanuts, and it’s the perfect dinner on a cold night.14570498_356481951357114_1835096097808545467_n

 

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves:  6

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium white onion, medium diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger

2 small sweet potatoes, medium diced

16 ounces dried lentils

6 cups fresh kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped

1 cup creamy peanut butter

6 ounces tomato paste

12 teaspoons or chicken base

12 cups water

1 tablespoon of curry powder

2 tablespoons Ras El Hanout

1/4 cup sriracha sauce

 

¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts

Naan bread

 

  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium.  Add the onions, and saute until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for another minute or two.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes, lentil, and kale.
  4. Add the peanut butter and tomato paste into a large mason jar.  Heat up water either in the microwave or in a tea kettle until almost boiling.  Add the hot water to the jar, and close.  Using oven mitts, shake vigorously until the peanut butter and tomato paste have dissolved into the hot water.
  5. Now add the peanut butter mixture to the pot.
  6. Add the chicken base, remaining water, curry powder, Ras El Hanout, and sriracha sauce to the pot.
  7. Bring the soup to a boil, and then bring it down to a simmer.  Cook for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better.
  8. If desired, serve over Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice.  Top with peanuts, and a side of naan bread.

(very loosely adapted from the Cookie and Kate blog)