Peanut soup is an authentic African recipe that’s very popular in West Africa, and especially in Ghana. And not only are peanuts a good source of protein, fats and fiber, but they pack a mighty punch of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Let’s take a step back in time together… According to the National Peanut Board, peanuts originated in South America. European explorers took peanuts back to Europe as well as on their expeditions to Asia and Africa. Peanuts were not introduced into North America until the 1700s, from Africa. Peanut butter is nearly as old as peanuts, as ground peanuts were incorporated into a variety of foods. What a history!
A quick internet search reveals that there are so many variations of this West African groundnut stew. This particular recipe comes from Nourishing Diets by Sally Fallon Morell. I love this book because it dives into great detail about how ancestral and traditional humans around the world truly ate, based on a plethora of research. It’s truly fascinating and I just had to include this book in my “cooking from my cookbooks” challenge for myself. Now, I’m going to be very honest with you. I had a hard time picking a recipe to cook out of this gem of a book. And not because there are so many I am chomping at the bit to try. I was stumped because most of these recipes are traditional, like ancestral recipes. When humans ate the whole animal – blood, guts and all. And I’m just not really ready for that. So I found one of the recipes that was a little more accessible and appealing for my millennial Westernized palate :p
There are a couple things about this recipe that you should know.
First of all, according to Nourishing Diets, African soups and stews often contain dried insects or whole small fish. That’s why there are anchovies in this recipe. I left them out though, because after I got food poisoning after eating something that I made with anchovies, I’d rather just not risk going down that road again… And Sally says they are completely optional, so if you’re also anchovy-adverse, leave those salty boys out of your food.
Second, the recipe calls for palm oil. Honestly, I had no clue what palm oil was when I read the recipe in the book. But apparently, palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet, because it’s actually found in a lot of packaged products on the supermarket shelves. Palm oil has been used for thousands of years – archaeologists found several pounds of palm oil in a vessel that dates back to 3,000 BC that was enclosed in a tomb in Egypt! It’s had all sorts of helpful uses over the past several millennia, but unfortunately now in our modern times, palm oil is linked to deforestation of tropical forests that are the habitats of endangered species. So I used canola oil instead.
– 4 cups diced raw chicken or beef
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
– 1/2 cup palm oil
– 5 cups chicken or beef broth
– 1/2 cup dried salted anchovies (optional)
– sea salt
– cooked grain (rice, quinoa, fufu, etc.)
– Preheat the oven to 350 F.
– Pat the chicken or beef dry with paper towels.
– Melt the palm oil in a large skillet.
– Working in batches, fry the meat in the palm oil until browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and into a bowl.
– Add the onion to the pan and cook until golden. Remove the onion with a slotted spoon and put in the bowl with the meat.
– Add the tomatoes and garlic to the pan and cook over high heat, stirring continuously, until it reduces a bit.
– Meanwhile, heat the broth in an oven proof casserole dish. Whisk in the peanut butter until it’s all melted and smooth.
– Add the meat, onion and tomato/garlic mixture to the broth/peanut butter and mix well. Season with cayenne and dried fish (optional).
– Cover the dish and transfer to the oven. Bake until the meat is tender, ~ 1 hour.
– Test-taste and season with salt as needed.
– Serve with a grain as a full and well-balanced meal 🙂