Skip to Content

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.


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.

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


  • 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


  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

Join the discussion below.

  • Kate Bock

    What is the serving size

    We don't currently have yield for this recipe, it's on our list to add!

  • Shaikha Ali

    Hello. Will that be ground cumin or whole cumin seeds? Also, do you think using canned jalapeños will be alright? Thank you!

    Ground cumin and canned jalapeños should work ok!

  • Justin King

    Is is possible to make this recipe in a slow cooker?

    We haven't tested this recipe in a slow cooker.

  • Leanna Brown

    Anything wrong with using regular peanut butter in this recipe instead of "natural"??

    It just might make it a bit sweeter if you are using a peanut butter with added sugar.

  • Amelia Carry

    Do you think if I pre made this, it would be good three days later? I’d wait till serving to add kale.

    Totally! Hope you enjoy.

  • 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!

  • Alex raets

    This soup is amazing
    Making as we speak for 3rd time this month
    Don’t change a thing it’s perfect as is

    Thanks Alex, so glad you love it!

  • Patti

    This is the best soup. I was skeptical about how the ingredients would taste together, but oh my gosh, delicious! This is the soup recipe I keep coming back to over all other soup recipes. Delicious!!!

    Thanks Patti, we are so happy you love it!

  • Monda

    Have made several batches of this recipe and it's turned out well, each time. ( Have even grated zucchini in for extra veg/vitamin content and it melted right in and didn't change the taste or consistency. ) Really tasty soup!

    Thanks Monda, we are happy you love it so much!

  • Joline

    I have made 100's of different soups in my's a personal challenge of mine to try to make a different one every Sunday. I've been doing that for about 4 years now. I have to say that I am pretty confident that this was the best soup I have made yet. It was outstanding. I wasn't sure if it would work out, the flavours together seemed like an odd mix, but it was freaking delightful! I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, homemade chicken stock, store bought rotisserie chicken breast, and added in some carrots (because why not?) and OMG, it was superb. My husband loved it, and he didn't even notice the sweet potato (which he despises!). He dipped some garlic naan into it and said the combination was perfect. We are hoping that the flavours blend even better overnight. Cannot wait to eat some leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

    Wow, every Sunday for 4 years?! Such a fun tradition Joline! We are so happy to hear how much you loved this recipe, thank you!