The popularity of peanut butter soup, in the name of West African peanut soup has spread like wild fire over the past couple of years. I am not exactly sure what exactly popularised it so much, but it may have something to do with the fact the it uses our much loved peanut butter. To be fairly strict, I do not believe in the generalisation of calling peanut soup West African. It seems a little bit odd to me. I believe it is more appropriate to share exactly where it comes from.
Ghana, is the place that I would say has an authentic peanut butter soup. In the sense that the dish is an actual soup as opposed to a stew. Maafe, a Senegalese peanut butter stew is another example, except in this case it is an actual stew as opposed to a soup. Peanut based sauces have been said to originate from the Mandinka people of Mali. And whilst it is true that peanut based sauces are an important part of the diet in many countries across West, Central, East and even Southern Africa, the verity of this claim is yet to be explored deeper with reputable research.
I grew up on peanut butter soup. My mom made it for us on a regular basis. We almost always had it with soft rice balls known as omo tuo, and on some occasions we had it with fufu.
- 2 medium onions (peeled and kept whole)
- 3 large tomatoes
- 1 whole chicken (cut into pieces)
- 8 garden eggs (African aubergine)
- 15 okra pods
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 piece ginger (1 inch, freshly grated)
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 tablespoons peanut butter (heaped)
- 1.8 liters chicken stock (use reduced salt stock cubes if using)
1. Start by placing the chicken into the pot. Place the whole, peeled onions, pepper, grated ginger and the tomatoes into the pot. Add the chicken stock to the pot and place onto the stove to cook on a high heat.
2. Bring the pot to the boil and reduce to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions and tomatoes are soft and tender. Remove them from the pot and place into a blender. You may wish to remove the skins from the tomatoes.
3. Liquidise the soft vegetables in a blender. Pour the smoothe vegetable blend back into the pot and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Cut the end off the garden eggs and make a cross shaped incision into the garden egg, not too deep as the garden eggs should remain whole. Put them into the soup.
4. During this time, make the peanut butter sauce by using the following instructions. It will be added to the soup once made. In a small saucepan over a gentle heat, melt the peanut butter until it is very runny. Begin to add water a little at a time to the pot. This process is similar to adding milk or water to a roux, so extra care needs to be taken to ensure it does not burn or form lumps.
5. When the peanut butter mixes adequately with the water to form a smooth sauce, allow it to simmer for 15 minutes before adding it into the soup. Alternatively once mixed with water, add the smooth peanut sauce directly into the pot and simmer together with the soup. The sauce will split and peanut oil will begin to separate from the sauce and float on the surface.
6. Cut the ends off the okra and add them into the soup. Simmer for 10 minutes then check seasoning. The soup is ready to serve.
Try other nut based dishes from Africa such as Uganda's binyebwa, Cameroon's ndole or Zimbabwe's nutty greens.