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African Peanut Soup

Warming fresh ginger, jalapeño, cumin and plenty of garlic make a spicy base for this creamy, sweet-savory African peanut soup recipe.

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African Peanut Soup in a bowl with ginger, garlic, cumin, crushed tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, chicken, kale.

A Protein-Packed Bowl of Goodness.

Hearty and healthy is the name of the game as we weather the mid-winter blues. With the holidays firmly behind us, but spring not yet in our sights, we are craving food that feeds our bodies—no more mashed potatoes for at least a few weeks, please—and our sun-starved souls. Thank goodness, this spicy, creamy, healthy African peanut soup delivers an abundance of nourishment for body and soul. Rich with spices and packing a lovely savory punch from both tomato paste—one of the best umami-delivery foods ever—and crushed tomatoes, this peanut butter soup wakes up your palate as it comforts your body. Plus! It’s dairy-free and although we like to add chicken, it’s just as easy to make it into a vegan peanut soup, too.

ingredients laid out for Peanut butter Soup onion, crushed tomatoes potatoes chickpeas,  chicken, kale, peanuts and cilantro.

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What Are The Origins Of This Soup Recipe?

This is actually a really interesting and important question. This creamy, rich West Africa-inspired recipe first came into our world almost a decade ago when a friend brought Natalie a pot of peanut soup as part of a meal train (best meal train participant ever, right?). But it’s been in the American food-world zeitgeist since the “Sundays at Moosewood” cookbook first came out in 1990 and Mollie Katzen’s “West African Peanut Soup” became one of the books’ most popular recipes. Though Katzen specifically calls out a recipe from Sierra Leone as the inspiration for the recipe she shares, groundnut stews—groundnut is another word for peanut—are a traditional part of the cuisine of many West African countries, including Gambia and Ghana. These classic groundnut stew recipes of course vary a bit from household to household, city to city, country to country. But, they usually include:

  • Ground peanuts
  • MeatTomatoes
  • Chiles

Peanut Butter 101

Our African peanut soup recipe calls for “natural peanut butter”, but what do we mean by that exactly? Well, we’re so glad you asked! The range of ingredients that you’ll find in a jar of peanut butter is surprisingly vast—take a look next time you’re in the PB & J aisle. Many peanut butters contain emulsifiers—often palm oil—added to keep the peanut butter from separating. However, those emulsifiers alter the flavor slightly as well as the consistency of the peanut butter, and they’re also not very good for you! So, we prefer to use “natural” peanut butter, by which we mean a peanut butter with just one or two ingredients: peanuts, and (maybe) salt. You can often grind your own—look for a grinder in the bulk aisle. We tested this recipe with this brand, but use any natural peanut butter you love. Keep in mind the salt content of the peanut butter, though, as different brands contain different amounts. Just taste the soup as you go— if your peanut butter is already pretty salty, don’t add much salt to the soup.

onion, ginger, garlic, jalapeño in a soup pot for Peanut soup recipe
tomato paste cumin and spices being added to African peanut soup in a soup pot
chickpeas being added to african peanut stew
chicken and kale being added peanut butter soup recipe in a soup pot

Peanut Butter Soup Obviously Has Peanut Butter—But What Else?

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh garlic and ginger
  • Jalapeno diced, seeds and ribs removed
  • Cumin
  • Tomato paste
  • Canned crushed tomatoes
  • Stock—we use regular, not low-sodium.
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Creamy natural peanut butter.
  • Chicken, poached and shredded (or pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • Kale
peanut stew with onion ginger garlic jalapeno cumin tomato paste crushed tomatoes chickpeas peanut butter chicken kale

How to Make African Peanut Stew

Healthy and satisfying, this rich, veggie-laden creamy peanut stew comes together fast. While we do often add chicken to this soup, it’s easy to make it vegan by simply leaving the chicken out and using vegetable broth instead of chicken. With peanut butter, chickpeas and dark, leafy greens it serves up a ton of protein and iron, with or without the chicken. Here’s how to make African peanut soup:

  1. You know how soup always starts, right? Haul out that stock pot and sauté onions in oil.
  2. Now it starts to get really good—add the aromatics! Ginger, garlic, jalapeño, salt, pepper, cumin, tomato paste. Oooh, the fragrance at this point is GOOD. Everyone in your house will be flocking to the kitchen by now.
  3. Soup base time! Pour in all of the liquid-y stuff—crushed tomatoes, stock—along with the sweet potatoes, chickpeas and peanut butter. You’re nearly there now! Just a quick simmer—about 15 minutes—to let the flavors cohere.
  4. Finish the soup with kale and chicken (if you’re using it) and cook it just a bit more to wilt the kale.
  5. Serve! Some people serve this stew-like peanut soup over rice, but we like to eat it as-is, garnished with crunchy peanuts and a little cilantro.
sweet and spicy peanut soup with chicken kale and sweet potatoes in a soup pot with a ladle. garnished with cilantro
bowl of African peanut soup topped with fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts

Tools You'll Need

Hearty Vegan Soup Recipes

We lean pretty hard on soup this time of year. It’s a one-pot meal (read: easy), it’s easy to make a lot and freeze some for later (yay for two birds / one stone) and it’s usually pretty healthy, too. In other words, soup rules. Here are the 4 soup recipes (that just happen to be vegan!) we’re loving right now:

sweet and spicy peanut soup with chicken kale and sweet potatoes in a bowl with naan, sweet potatoes and chicken
sweet and spicy peanut soup with chicken kale chickpeas and sweet potatoes garnished with cilantro and peanuts.

Was it Soup-er?

Oh jeeze. Sorry. We couldn’t help it. We’ve been living the soup life since the holidays ended and it might be getting to us a little. Anyway, we hope you love this west African peanut soup recipe as much as we do! Let us know if you make it! Snap a photo of your peanut soup and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

African Peanut Soup

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  30 min
  • Calories: 418

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (14oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 4 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, cooked, shredded
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  • peanuts, crushed
  • cilantro, chopped (optional) for garnish

Method

  1. In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add in ginger, jalapeno and garlic and stir until fragrant about 1 min. Add the pepper, cumin and tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring, until paste darkens.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, stock, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and peanut butter. Bring to a boil and stir until fully combined. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.
  4. Add in kale and shredded chicken and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the soup before adding salt. Depending on how salty your stock and/or peanut butter was, it may not need anymore salt. If you use low sodium stock and salt-free peanut butter, it will need a full teaspoon salt, maybe more. Adjust to your own liking.
  5. Serve warm topped with cilantro and crushed peanuts. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories418
  • Protein32 g
  • Carbohydrates26 g
  • Total Fat23 g
  • Dietary Fiber7 g
  • Cholesterol1 mg
  • sodium516 mg
  • Total Sugars7 g

African Peanut Soup

Questions & Reviews

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  • Margaret Henderson

    Spinach instead of kale? Potato instead of sweet potato? Just thinking what I have to hand.

    Sure! Hope you enjoy Margaret.

  • Karen A Wrenn

    I had this at a friend's house and absolutely loved it!!1
    To lower the fat and calories a little bit, could I substitute for just half of the peanut butter some PB Fit and water? Thank you ahead of time!! Hugs, Karen :-)

    we've never tried it. It will probably change the consistency a bit but flavor should be ok. Hope you enjoy if you give it a try karen!

  • Victoria Mercier

    I loved this soup! Can it be frozen?

    Sure!

  • Jerry Jacobs

    What is the serving size?

    We don't have a total yield for this recipe. It would be 1/8th of the pot of soup.

  • Allison

    I'd like to avoid buying more peanut butter, if possible--could I do a mixture of creamy peanut butter and tahini (to cut the sweetness of the non-natural peanut butter but keep the volume and texture)? Or do you think that may impact the taste too much? Tahini is frequently used in north Africa, so I thought it may work.

    We don't think the taste would come out right.

  • Kathleen T Guiffrida

    This soup is amazing! Very satisfying and great for dinner on a cold day. The whole family loves it.

    Thanks Kathleen, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Emily

    This soup is amazing. I'm having difficulty printing it though. Can you help?

    Thanks Emily, glad you enjoyed it! The print button is right above the ingredient list. We tested it and it worked for us.

  • Tracie Olsson

    Amazing! I made it vegan for my son’s D&D game night. Even the boy who likes extra meat pizza loved it! I did add an extra poblano because this crowd likes spicy. We will definitely be making this again!

    Thanks Tracie, so happy to hear it was a hit!

  • Frankie

    I keep coming back to this recipe, I love it so much. I add honey and lime to the broth and it’s just so dang good.

    Thanks Frankie, we are so glad you love it!

  • Robin Harmon

    AMAZING! Super quick and easy to make super flavorful and even better the next day!

    Thanks Robin, we are so happy you loved it!