With a load of fresh veggies and lean, tender chicken, this creamy (no cream!) African Peanut Soup is hearty, healthy, super delicious and comes together in under an hour!
If you've been following The Café for a while, you might recall that every now and then, I make a REALLY GOOD dinner entree. One of those that has Scott stopping in his tracks with the first bite and saying; "THIS is like candy!". Although he has an award-winning sweet tooth, he's not saying that it's sugary but rather, it's his way of describing something incredibly delicious. That's exactly what happened when I handed him a bowl of this Roasted Red Pepper African Peanut Soup.
What is African Peanut Soup?
Well... besides being "crazy good" (another one of Scott's descriptions), African Peanut Soup is a cultural staple in West and Central Africa that is also called Groundnut (another name for peanuts in many parts of the world) Stew or Maafe. There are probably as many variations of African Peanut Soup as there are home cooks in that little corner of the globe and recipes vary from one region to another. Peanut butter, tomatoes and sweet potatoes are commonly in the ingredient line-up but from there, things can vary widely.
My version of African Peanut Soup also includes onion, shallots, roasted red pepper and carrots... just because I like to stuff as many veggies as possible into my soups. Cumin, coriander, a dash of chili powder and a can of coconut milk round out the flavor profile.
Everything is blended together before the chicken is added so there's no fancy chopping necessary for this delicious soup. I use an immersion blender to make things really easy and to keep from having to wash extra dishes.
Peanut butter in soup?!
Yes! It might seem like an unusual ingredient for soup but you'll understand with the first bite. Peanut butter adds a wonderful depth of flavor although you might not recognize that it's peanut butter. I experimented with different amounts and found that ½ cup seemed to be perfect without overwhelming the other ingredients. Peanut butter adds a touch of both sweet and savory creating an exotic layer of flavor!
Again, if you've followed The Café for any length of time, you know the magic trick I like to employ for amazingly tender chicken. It's actually an Asian technique called "Velveting" that's often used at Asian restaurants. If you've ever wondered how they get such tender chicken at your favorite Chinese restaurant, this little magic trick is probably the answer.
It's super easy, taking just a few extra minutes but the results are spectacular. How does it work? I knew you'd want to know...
- Combine an egg white, a scoop of cornstarch, a few teaspoons of vinegar and a splash of oil in a bowl.
- Slice the chicken breast into bite-size slices and add it to the egg white mixture in the bowl. Stir to coat the chicken with the magic sauce.
- Allow the chicken to marinate in the egg-white mixture for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the marinaded chicken to the simmering sauce, cover and turn off the heat.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes then serve and enjoy the most mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth tender chicken you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting!
It's important to not overcook the chicken. I've had readers worry that the chicken might still be raw since it's not "cooked", per se, after it's added to the simmering sauce. The pot is just covered and the thinly sliced chicken breast cooks in the residual heat over a 10-minute wait period. I promise you, the chicken WILL BE PERFECT and SO amazingly tender - if you follow these instructions.
Even more great nutrition!
Although this African Peanut Soup recipe includes a boatload of veggies, sometimes I like to enhance it even a bit more with fresh spinach. I add big handfuls of baby spinach to the soup along with the chicken.
The spinach wilts as the chicken cooks and adds a pretty touch of green along with all the extra vitamins and minerals that fresh spinach provides.
I think you will understand what Scott means by "candy" and "crazy delicious" when you take the first bite of this Roasted Red Pepper African Peanut Soup. You might have a different word for one of the most flavorful, delicious soups you've ever tasted but... no worries. We speak the same language and we'll understand exactly what you mean!
Gather your ingredients and make a pot of this fabulous soup ASAP! You won't be sorry, and if you're like me, you'll be gathering those ingredients again and again for this healthy, hearty, super delicious soup!
Café Tips for making this Roasted Red Pepper African Peanut Soup
- I use creamy-style Jiff peanut butter for this soup. I haven't tried it with organic peanut butter but I think that should also work fine.
- You could also use crunchy peanut butter if you prefer more texture in your soup. If you use crunchy peanut butter, wait to add it until after you've blended the soup.
- This recipe calls for a 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers. You can find roasted red peppers at most larger grocery stores in either the canned veggie section or the pickles/condiments section. Look for the deepest, darkest colored peppers with nice char. Roasted red peppers that are pale in color have often been sitting on the shelf too long and won't have great flavor.
- Coconut milk comes in regular and light. I like to use light for this recipe to keep the calorie count down but either on will work.
- A can of fire-roasted tomatoes is another ingredient for this African Peanut Soup. Fire-roasted tomatoes are, as the name suggests, tomatoes that are roasted over a fire before canning. They add a wonderful depth of flavor and a beautiful deep hue to sauces and soups. If you can't find fire-roasted tomatoes, regular canned diced tomatoes will also work for this recipe.
- You can serve this soup on its own or add a scoop of basmati or jasmine rice on the side. Either way, it's wonderful!
- I like to garnish this African Peanut Soup with fresh herbs and a scatter of crunchy salted peanuts.
- African Peanut Soup is known to be quite spicy. I've kept the heat fairly mind with just ½ teaspoon of chili powder. Feel free to increase the spiciness with more chili powder.
- This recipe makes a large batch of soup - 10-12 servings but it reheats well and makes GREAT leftovers. You can also freeze it or the recipe could be halved.
- As mentioned above, there are so many variations of African Peanut Soup. This is simply my own rendition. If you are from Africa, this recipe may not be the way your family prepared it and/or it may not be what you think of as traditional... but it is, most definitely, mouthwateringly delicious so enjoy!
Thought for the day:
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in his temple.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations, and ideas for variations.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium size shallot roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped (1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground chili powder
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger or ginger paste
- 4 cloves garlic no need to chop
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 14 ounces can fire-roasted tomatoes (1 14-ounce can)
- 14 ounces can coconut milk (1 14-ounce can)
- ½ cup peanut butter I use creamy but crunch will also work
- 12 ounces roasted red peppers (1 12-ounce jar) drained
- 1 large sweet potato 9-10 ounces, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 medium-size carrots about 6-7 ounces, peeled and roughy chopped (I usually use 5-6 ounces of baby carrots, no need to peel!)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinlless chicken breast
- 1 egg white from one large egg
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 teaspoons vinegar I use rice vinegar but any kind of vinegar will work
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- peanuts crushed
- cilantro basil and/or mint leaves, chopped if the leaves are large.
Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and oil and heat until hot and bubbly. Add the chopped onion, shallot, coriander, cumin and chili powder. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and ginger. Cook for another minute, giving it a stir a few times.
Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, peanut butter, roasted red peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat slightly, cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes.
While the chicken broth mixture is cooking, prepare the chicken (see below).
After 20 minutes, remove the lid and turn off the heat. Using a regular blender or an immersion blender, puree the mixture until nice and smooth. If using a regular blender, allow the mixture to cool a bit and make sure to vent the lid opening but removing the center cap and covering it a narrow mouth sieve, several thicknesses of paper toweling or a folded dish towel.
After pureeing, bring the mixture back to a steady simmer then add the chicken and stir to combine and separate the chicken slices. Cover tightly and turn off the heat. Allow the soup to sit for 10 minutes then serve and enjoy!
Combine the egg white, cornstarch, vinegar and oil in a medium size bow/ and stir until smooth. Slice the chicken into thin bite-size slices and add it to the egg white mixture. Stir well to coat the chicken and allow the mixture to sit for 15-20 minutes while the broth mixture continues to cook.
You can serve this soup as is or with a scoop of jasmine or basmati rice. Garnish with fresh herbs, salted peanuts and freshly ground black pepper.