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African Peanut Soup

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Calories: 418
African Peanut Soup in a bowl with ginger, garlic, cumin, crushed tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, chicken, kale.

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

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

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 chicken, poached 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
  • Calories 418
  • Protein 32 g
  • Carbohydrates 26 g
  • Total Fat 23 g
  • Dietary Fiber 7 g
  • Cholesterol 1 mg
  • sodium 516 mg
  • Total Sugars 7 g

African Peanut Soup

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Sarah

    Is there a good substitute for the sweet potato?

    Hi Sarah, if you don't like sweet potato you could sub for butternut squash or regular potatoes.

  • Jonathan McCurdy

    How much total soup does this recipe yield?

    We are working on getting yields added to our recipes. We will add this to the list of requests.

  • Connie Hanson

    It's very good but too spicy for me. What is best way to turn down the heat? Adding more peanut butter or serve it over rice? Serve it with sour cream? Thanks for helping me out with this?

    Did you take the seeds out of the jalapeño? The jalapeño is the only spicy thing in this recipe. BUT if you remove the seeds (like the recipe says to do) then it shouldn't be that spicy.

  • Sara

    How do you think this would turn out with leftover Turkey instead of chicken?🤔

    Great!

  • Sara

    How do you think this would turn out with leftover Turkey instead of chicken?🤔

    Wonderful!

  • Justine

    Delicious! Used baby spinach instead of kale and rotisserie chicken instead of poached. Loved it!

    Thanks Justine, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • kate

    this recipe is amazing!!! it's like crack with a fresh lime squeezed over it

    Thanks so much Kate, we are so glad you love it!

  • Janet Wolbarst

    I loved it!!! Didn’t mean to make substitutions but I didn’t have chickpeas. I added drained black beans at the end and did add shredded chicken and chopped baby spinach instead of kale. Very impressive recipe! Shared with friends.

    Thanks Janet! We are so glad you loved it and shared it!

  • Rachel

    Delicious - full of flavor and very filling. Used canned shredded chicken from my pantry and it tasted great. My husband really liked it too - just the right amount of spice.

    Thank you Rachel! We are so happy the two of you enjoyed it!

  • Connie Hanson

    I loved it and will definitely make it again, but next time I will be more careful about removing the seeds from the pepper bc this time I didn't realize if you don't it's pretty spicy.

    Thank you Connie, we are so glad you liked it! Yes, the pepper seeds definitely add heat.