A few years ago, my boyfriend bought me a book called “The Best Soups in the World” by Clifford A. Wright, and for the most part, I had largely forgotten about it because so often, soup takes too much time to prepare. Then, a little bit ago, I was talking to my friend Melissa about a paleo version of West African stew that I was quite fond of (that recipe uses almond butter as a base, and because it’s a dish that has been modified for paleo, I did not use that recipe for this blog), and she told me that she loved African peanut stew, which had been served at her cafeteria during undergrad.
I started to do a little research for the recipe for my blog, when I suddenly remembered “The Best Soups in the World” sitting amongst my other cookbooks in my kitchen. I flipped through it, and, lo and behold, I had a recipe for peanut soup! This book is great because the author says he really strives for authenticity. I’m sure this book will make an appearance here in the future, as I became very excited to try different soups upon my rediscovery of the book.
According to my book, in Africa, the base for the soup is peanuts ground by hand. For modern convenience, this recipe allows for commercial peanut butter, provided it contains only peanuts. Whole Foods is a great source of in-store ground nut butter, but there are some other commercial brands that only contain peanuts that I found in the regular grocery… Just make sure to check the label (and then, perhaps, gear yourself up for the shock of finding out it’s somewhat impossible to find one without added sugar). I also had no trouble finding red palm oil even in the regular grocery, and for those of you having trouble finding it in-person, Amazon has a number of options for both ingredients.
I added chicken thighs to my soup because I wanted the extra protein (which Mr. Wright explains is perfectly acceptable and common, where protein is readily available in Africa). Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. Check Mr. Wright’s description in the book for variations from region to region. This is a common dish throughout Africa, but it still varies depending on who the cook is (Melissa told me my soup didn’t look like the one she had in college). I also cheated a bit and softened the sweet potatoes in the microwave; sometimes my patience for replication goes only so far.
Just a little bit of this soup goes a long way in filling me up. With the mashed sweet potatoes and mixture of fat-filled red palm oil and peanut butter, I was feeling pretty content after only a small-looking serving. This is a good one for cold winter nights like I’ve been experiencing in Northern Nevada!
I also made a slow cooker version of this recipe about a week later with a recipe I found online; it wasn’t nearly as good. I suggest sticking to the ingredients and general recipe listed in “The Best Soups of the World,” and adapting it for slow cooker (I probably would just dump everything in there as is, uncooked, on low for 8 hours). Try this one for a winter evening; it’s sure to warm up your stomach!