West African Peanut Soup

West African Peanut Soup

West African Peanut Soup

Peanut soup appears on the menu in many African countries. This smooth, creamy version thickened with both peanuts and peanut butter gets its sweetness from yam. A warm reddish brown, the soup is fragrant with sweet spices, intensely flavored, earthy and piquant. Europeans brought peanuts from South America to Africa in the early 1500’s where they caught on quickly because of their similarity to the native African bambarra groundnut. In the U.S. it has become traditional to serve this soup when celebrating the seven days of Kwanzaa. Substitute vegetable stock for a deliciously rich vegetarian soup.


Serving Size:  8

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon each: chopped garlic and
  • ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons each: ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch each: ground cloves and cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chopped plum tomatoes, or 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes
  • 2 large yams, peeled and cut-up
  • 3/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock), simmering
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Optional garnishes: diced fresh tomato, cilantro sprigs, and chopped roasted peanuts


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onion until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne. Sauté together 2 to 3 minutes to release their fragrance. Stir in the tomatoes and yam, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes to meld the flavors.

Add the hot stock and peanuts, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Using a food processor or blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan. Whisk in the peanut butter and chopped cilantro, season with salt and pepper and heat through. Top each serving with the (optional) garnishes. Serve piping hot.

(from Starting with Ingredients)