Sunday, March 3, 2013

West African Peanut Soup

As a kid, snow days meant a lot of thing. My parents would come downstairs to wake me up and let me know I could sleep in. I'd turn over, snuggle closer to my cat and dog, and smile.

A bit later, when I got up, we'd share breakfast in our pajamas.

We lived on a steep, dirt driveway that was difficult to traverse , so snow days always meant stay at home days for us. I'd curl up on the couch and read for hours or challenge my family to a serious game of Scrabble or rummy.

Then, it was out into the woods. We lived in the country, and there was a huge sandhill just a short hike from our house. We'd suit up with layer after layer of snow gear and make our way toward Mount Baldy.

Mount Baldy was long, and each swift trip down the hill meant a long hike back up. By the time we returned to the house, we were starving.

I remember always having soup on snow days, made from whatever pasta and veggies we had in the pantry, with homemade biscuits on the side. The soup warmed us up from the inside out, and we'd eagerly eat it up.

It snowed a bit today, nowhere near enough to require a snow day, but it did make me crave soup. I don't think I could have handled this soup as a kid, but I love it now.

Like the soups my mom whipped together on those snow days, this West African peanut stew was almost entirely (with the exception of the collards) made from ingredients I had on hand.

Red pepper flakes add a suggestion of heat, and the sweet potato cubes melt in your mouth, bringing a bit of sweetness to the dish. The soup is loaded with collard greens, which add some heft and texture to the dish. Sprinkling some chopped peanuts over the top of the soup add a bit of crunch to the finished dish.

West African Peanut Soup
recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate 

This recipe makes enough to serve 5 for dinner, probably more. The soup took about 45 minutes, from start to finish, and most of that time was hands-off.

8 cups vegetable broth
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and sliced into 1-inch long pieces (run your knife through your longer pieces two or three times to break them up if you prefer them a bit smaller.

Optional garnishes:
Brown rice
Chopped peanuts

Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add garlic, ginger, red onion, sweet potato and red pepper flakes. Boil for 20 minutes over medium heat, allowing time for the flavors to meld.

In a separate bowl, combine tomato paste and peanut butter. Whisk well. Add 1 cup boiling vegetable broth, and whisk until ingredients are combined and smooth. Transfer the tomato and peanut butter mixture into the broth. Stir well.

Add collard greens, and stir well. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes more, over medium-low heat, until collards are tender and flavors are combined.

Serve hot, with brown rice and chopped peanuts on top.


  1. I'm not sure I would have eaten this as a kid either, but it sounds delicious now! Adding spicy to peanut is a lovely combination in my opinion. And sweet potato? I'm sold!

    1. Thanks! The spicy really made it for me. It's not too agressive in this soup. It just lingers in the background after you finish a bite.

  2. Oh man I truly do miss snow days! I'm making this soup whether it snows again or not because I love peanut butter in soups!

    1. Luckily (or not!) we're due for snow tomorrow, so I'm extra grateful to have an extra container of this tucked away in the fridge!