Sunday, July 26, 2015

Western African Vegetarian Peanut Soup

Sometime last year, my daughter told me that she and her husband were trying to have a strict food and exercise regime. They would eat light and right including vegetables and fruits more. Thus, they went on a salad, soup and lighter meals weekly schedule. She kept looking for different and interesting recipes so the interest does not wear itself off. She had shared a few of the recipes, with her take on them, with me. Some of those were very doable at home; there were a few that required ingredients that I might not find locally, thus I ticked those off my to-do list.
When we visited her, she made for us, those dishes that might interest me and a few she thought were really a must try. One such dish was the Western African Peanut soup.
Peanuts grow aplenty in some regions of Western Africa and they are always a find in the markets locally. People here use peanut butter to thicken their sauces and soups. It is common to find a fish or chicken soup with a creamy thick peanut base. There are vegetarian versions and vegan friendly ones too. In Ghana, the soup is more likely to be served with rice balls, thus making it a complete meal.
Here, in Togo, one is more likely to be able to pick roasted and salted peanuts packed and sold. I have not come across raw peanuts here other than what my Indian grocer imports from elsewhere.
During the last harvest in India, my parents' driver brought them a bag of freshly harvested groundnuts and so did another lady working in my aunt's house. My mother peeled and sun dried them for days. We pressure cooked some of them fresh too. The rest dried quickly given the hot temperatures. I packed some and brought them here. I would roast them in the microwave or in a skillet, remove the skin and use as required.

I had a lot sitting in my pantry and decided to use it up in the soup my daughter had shared. The recipe link gave many short cut ideas like using peanut butter and tomato paste. I decided to go the full length. I made the peanut butter at home and used a thick tomato puree too. Some fresh coriander leaves thrown in with boiled spinach made an wholesome soup. you may choose to leave out the spinach. I soaked and made a paste of red chillis. However, one may use store available chilli sauce also.

Western African Vegetarian Peanut Soup
Serves 2

For Home made Peanut Butter:
1 and 1/2 cups peanuts

For the soup:
1/3 cups peanut butter
5 medium large tomatoes
3 red chillis
1 fistful spinach leaves boiled
2 tablespoons coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Black pepper crushed to tatse

For the Peanut Butter:
Roast the peanuts either in the microwave or in a skillet. I spread them on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 2&1/2 minutes. Give them a stire and again microwave on high for 30 seconds.
Cool them and remove skin.
Take the peanuts in the jar of a blender and pulse it, the peanuts will crush initially, then powder and on further pulsing it will become a sticky butter. You may need to scrape the ingredients down once in a while. The butter will be smooth and creamy.

For the soup:
Boil some water in saucepan. Drop the tomatoes and leave them in until you will be able to peel the skin off.
Drain the water into a bowl as it can be used later. Allow the tomatoes to cool.
Meanwhile, boil the spinach in the drained liquid until the leaves are tender.
Soak the red chillis in some water until required.
Once the tomatoes have cooled, take them in a blender, add to them the boiled spinach and soaked chilli. Add the chopped fresh coriander also. Blend in a smooth puree. Transfer the puree to the sauce pan.

Wash the blender and reserve the water with the adhering tomato puree.
Adjust the water in the puree and allow it to boil; let the raw taste of the ingredients subside.
Mix the peanut butter to the water that you reserved along with the adhering puree. Mix well so that no lumps are found.
Allow the tomato puree to simmer further, add salt and then add the blended peanut base.
Stir constantly and simmer the soup until desired thickness is achieved.

It makes a deliciously creamy soup. Adjust the salt and spice levels according to individual taste.
Enjoy a rich and warm soup as part of meal. If you decide to make the rice balls and serve alongside the soup, enjoy it as a full yet light meal.
No Croutons Required Event jointly hosted by Lisa and Jacquline. This July is being hosted by Lisa in her Lisa's Kitchen blog. My above soup is an entry to the same event. 


  1. Beautiful. I love using peanut butter in savory dishes. Thank you so much for sharing with NCR.

  2. I love it. I have seen versions of this soup and wondered how authentically African it truly was... but if you call it African, then I will believe you. :)

  3. Love peanut in any form. I am sure it adds a great taste to the soup.


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