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Peanut Butter Soup

Peanut Butter Soup, also known as Groundnut Soup, West African Peanut Soup, and African Peanut Stew, has its origins in West African cuisine, particularly in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. This flavorful and hearty soup is a classic dish in many West African households and has a rich history deeply rooted in the region’s culinary traditions.

If you’re like me, your initial impression might be, “Peanut butter in soup?” and dismiss it right off. But please, for the sake of your tastebuds, give it a try! The combination of peanut butter with onions, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger transforms this dish into a comforting and hearty soup with a unique fusion of flavors.

The primary ingredient, peanut butter, plays a significant role in West African cooking, where groundnuts (peanuts) are a staple crop. Peanut butter not only adds a creamy texture to the soup but also imparts a unique nutty flavor that is central to the dish.

Peanut Butter Soup in a White Bowl.

Throughout West Africa, Peanut Butter Soup has various regional variations, with each culture adding its twist to the recipe. Common ingredients often include a mixture of vegetables, spices, and proteins such as chicken, beef, or fish. The use of spices like ginger, garlic, and hot peppers adds layers of complexity and a delightful kick of heat to the soup.

Peanut Butter Soup is not only a beloved comfort food in West Africa but has also gained popularity in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean and some Southern United States regions. Its versatility and rich history make it a fascinating culinary journey that has transcended borders and delighted taste buds worldwide.

Ingredients of this Peanut Butter Soup Recipe

Peanut Butter Soup Ingredients
  • Broth (Vegetable or Chicken): Choose vegetable broth for a vegetarian version and chicken broth for a non-vegetarian option. Broth forms the base of the soup, providing a savory flavor.
  • Water: Leave out for a thicker, almost stewlike soup.
  • Onion: Onions add a delicious depth of flavor to the soup. You can use yellow, white, or red onions. Dice them finely for even distribution of flavor.
  • Fresh Ginger: Peeled and grated fresh ginger adds a pleasant, warming spice to the soup. Adjust the quantity to your taste; it can be quite potent.
  • Fresh Garlic: Garlic complements the ginger and onion flavors. Mince or press the garlic cloves. Its pungent aroma enhances the overall taste.
  • Unsalted Peanut Butter: Use natural, unsalted peanut butter without added sugar. As long as it is unsalted, and unsweetened, you can choose either creamy peanut butter or chunky peanut butter. Creamy usually blends more smoothly into the soup.
  • Tomato Paste: Tomato paste gives the soup a subtle tomato flavor and a hint of acidity. It also contributes to the soup’s rich, reddish-brown color.
  • Cayenne Pepper, Pepper Flakes or Hot Sauce: These ingredients add heat to the soup. Start with a small amount and adjust according to your preferred level of spiciness. Be cautious; it’s easier to add more heat than to reduce it.
  • Cumin: Cumin is a spice that adds depth and earthiness to the soup. When toasted or sautéed in the initial stages of cooking, cumin releases its warm and slightly nutty aroma. Its flavor is both savory and slightly peppery, which complements the richness of the peanut butter. Cumin can enhance the overall complexity of the soup, giving it a subtle smokiness and an extra layer of flavor.
  • Coriander: Ground coriander or coriander seeds are often used in Peanut Butter Soup to provide a citrusy and slightly floral note. Coriander adds brightness to the dish, balancing the richness of the peanut butter and the savory elements. Its flavor harmonizes with the other spices and ingredients, contributing to the overall complexity and depth of taste.
  • Chopped Spinach or Kale: Spinach or kale, when added to Peanut Butter Soup, introduce a vibrant burst of color, freshness, and nutritional value. These leafy greens provide a welcome contrast to the creamy and savory components of the soup. Additionally, the greens are a source of vitamins and minerals, making the soup not only delicious but also nutritious.
  • Chopped Peanuts for Garnish (optional)
A jar of peanut butter.

How to Make Peanut Butter Soup

One of the best things about this soup is just how easy it is to make!

  • Step 1: Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Step 2: Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Step 3: Stir in the minced garlic and ginger and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Step 4: Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Stir well to combine the spices with the aromatics. Let them cook for a minute or so to enhance their flavors.
  • Step 5: Add the peanut butter and tomato paste to the pot and stir until it’s well incorporated with the onion and spice mixture. The mixture will become rather thick and paste-like.
  • Gradually pour in the vegetable or chicken broth while continuously stirring to combine. This will help to smooth out the peanut butter/tomato paste and create a creamy base.
  • Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add spinach or kale and simmer until they are softened approximately 1-2 minutes. If you want to add cooked chicken, now is the time to do that.
  • Dish out and top with chopped peanuts. To make the meal even heartier, serve it over cooked rice.
Peanut Butter Soup in a white bowl.

Tips for Making the Best Peanut Butter Soup

  • Use Natural Peanut Butter: Opt for natural peanut butter without added sugar or excessive salt. This will give your soup a purer peanut flavor and prevent it from becoming too sweet or overly salty.
  • Adjust Spice Levels: Be cautious with cayenne pepper or hot sauce if you’re not accustomed to spicy foods. Start with a small amount and gradually add more to reach your desired level of heat.
  • Balance Sweetness: If you find the soup too sweet due to the peanut butter, you can balance it by adding a bit of acidity, like a squeeze of fresh lime juice or a splash of vinegar.
  • Consistency: Adjust the soup’s consistency by adding more broth if it’s too thick or letting it simmer longer to thicken if it’s too thin. It should be creamy but not overly thick.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh ginger and garlic for the best flavor. Fresh ingredients elevate the taste of the soup.
  • Leafy Greens: If you choose to add chopped spinach or kale, do so towards the end of cooking to maintain their vibrant color and texture.
  • Garnish: Consider garnishing with chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, or a drizzle of coconut milk for added flavor and visual appeal.
  • Pair with Traditional Sides: Serve Peanut Butter Soup with traditional accompaniments like rice to complete the meal and provide a satisfying contrast in textures.
  • Leftovers: Peanut Butter Soup often tastes even better the next day as the flavors meld, so don’t hesitate to make extra for leftovers.
  • Don’t Swap the Tomato Paste: In this recipe, the tomato paste provides the thick consistency and concentrated tomato flavor. that you can’t get from other tomato products.

Consider These Options, Substitutions or Additions

  • Toast Spices: Consider toasting the ground cumin and ground coriander in the pot with a bit of oil before adding other ingredients. This enhances their flavor and aroma.
  • Protein Options: Customize the soup by adding your preferred protein. Chicken, shrimp, beef, or tofu are great options. Ensure they are fully cooked before serving.
  • Add Additional Vegetables: Red bell pepper or sweet potato cubes are common additions to many peanut soup recipes.
  • Peanut Allergy?: You can swap out the peanut butter for any other nut butter with the understanding that the flavor profile will change. Some other options include cashew butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter.
Peanut Butter Soup in a White Bowl.

Common Questions and Answers

Is Peanut Butter Soup sweet or savory?

Peanut Butter Soup is primarily savory, but it can have a slightly sweet undertone due to the natural sweetness of peanut butter. The sweetness is balanced with savory ingredients like onions, garlic, and spices.

Can I make Peanut Butter Soup with different proteins?

Yes, you can customize Peanut Butter Soup with various proteins, such as chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu, depending on your dietary preferences. The choice of protein adds different flavors and textures to the dish. Add cooked protein at the end, simmering the soup just long enough to warm the protein.

How spicy is Peanut Butter Soup?

The spiciness of Peanut Butter Soup can vary widely depending on the recipe and personal preference. Some versions are mildly spicy, while others can be quite hot. The level of spiciness is usually adjusted with ingredients like ginger, hot peppers, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce.

What are some common variations of Peanut Butter Soup?

Common variations include adding vegetables like okra, sweet potatoes, or bell peppers for extra flavor and texture. Some recipes also incorporate ingredients like coconut milk for added creaminess.

Can I make a vegetarian or vegan version of Peanut Butter Soup?

Yes, you can easily make vegetarian or vegan Peanut Butter Soup by using vegetable broth.

What are side dishes to serve with Peanut Butter Soup?

Consider serving rice and a salad with your soup. These accompaniments complement the soup and provide a balanced meal.

Can I freeze Peanut Butter Soup?

Yes, you can freeze Peanut Butter Soup for longer storage. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container, leaving some space for expansion, and store it for up to 2-3 months. Thaw and reheat when needed. I’m a big fan of these Souper Cubes to store soup, chili, and the like.

Souper Cubes

Food Storage Favorite

I’ve been using Freezer Storage Cubes and Freezer Pods for years! We use the 1 cup, the 1/2 cup, and the 2 tablespoon trays.

The 1 cup is perfect for lunch portions of soup and chili, as well as beans for meals.

The 1/2 cup size is great for freezing buttermilk and cream. We also portion out 1/2 cup portions of our seasoned meat for our weekly nachos.

The 2-tablespoon trays are a great size for tomato paste and chipotle in adobo.

How do I store and reheat Peanut Butter Soup?

Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, gently warm it on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, or use a microwave.

More Hearty Soup Recipes:

Peanut Butter Soup in a White Bowl.

Peanut Butter Soup

Lynn
Peanut Butter Soup is a rich and creamy West African-inspired dish, combining the nutty flavor of peanut butter with savory spices and optional proteins. Its unusual combination of flavors and comforting texture make it a delightful culinary experience, perfect for those seeking a unique and hearty soup.
5 from 2 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Soups, Stocks, Broths + Chili
Cuisine West African
Servings 8 cups
Calories 569 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 tablespoon oil canola oil or olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspooon cumin ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander ground
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teasoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter unsalted and unsweetened (creamy or chunky)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water leave out for a thicker soup
  • 1 pound of fresh spinach or kale or 10-12 ounces frozen spinach or kale.
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.
  • 8 ounces of cooked chopped or shredded chicken optional

Instructions
 

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and ginger and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Stir well to combine the spices with the aromatics. Let them cook for a minute or so to enhance their flavors.
  • Add the peanut butter and tomato paste to the pot and stir until it’s well incorporated with the onion and spice mixture. The mixture will become rather thick and paste-like. I find that using a ball whisk makes this process super easy.
  • Gradually pour in the vegetable or chicken broth and water while continuously stirring to combine. This will help to smooth out the peanut butter/tomato paste mixture and create a creamy base.
  • Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add spinach or kale and simmer until they are softened approximately 3-5 minutes. If you want to add cooked chicken, add it here as well.
  • Serve with crushed peanuts. For a more filling meal, serve the soup over a scoop of rice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 569kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 38gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 1271mgFiber: 25gSugar: 9g
Keyword African, peanut, peanut butter, soup
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Peanut Butter Soup in a White Bowl.


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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve already made this twice!
    The first time was for my very unsure husband. He really liked! Within a week company was coming for a few days. I made it again and everyone’s reaction was soo positive.
    Thank you Lynn for another ‘out of the park’ recipe.

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