Senegalese Peanut Soup... I had plenty of opportunity to eat Romanian food while growing up... hardly ever had any other cuisine. Granted the Romanian cuisine is a conglomeration of a few other European cuisines, but mainly it's composed of simple dishes without too many spices involved. My mom cooked traditional dishes... all from scratch...and she was excellent at it. But when we kids started growing up, we sort of gave mom ideas:)... hamburgers came along, then burritos with homemade salsa.... then lasagna ... along with Friday night homemade pizza and every so often American donuts:). And when my oldest sister came home from her college dorm on the weekends.... she introduced us to the sushi rolls. My mom adapted quite easily...and oftentimes let us experiment in the kitchen. I remember my oldest brother making caramelized apple strudels in the skillet with.... tortillas of all things. They were incredibly delicious! In any case, we never ventured out to use any of the strong spices in our cooking. Spices such as cumin, curry powder, garam masala were foreign to us....and sweet and sour was never a combination found at home. So when I got married, I stuck pretty much to the basics when cooking...and really never introduced those spices in the dishes I made. But then I started slowly adding cilantro...and over the years it has become a favorite. Then I introduced cumin...and slowly worked up to different spices found in garam masala and curry powder.
When I first saw the Senegalese peanut soup, I immediately knew I wanted to make it... especially since I enjoy trying out new recipes from all over the world. I figured we love the Chicken Tikka Masala... and this soup would be similar. Should I try it, should I not....didn't exactly know how the peanut butter would play out in the soup. I was curious and kept thinking about the soup... for several days.
I finally took my chance and forged ahead in making it. I chose to keep it simple the first time around... no meat... and only a few basic vegetables. I usually don't have peanuts in the house, so I bought some roasted and salted peanuts... ended up making my own peanut butter and liked the ability to control the texture.
I have to say that my husband had 2 bowlfuls of this "soup"! I did make his favorite rice to go along:)... but the soup was so delicious... and it smelled just wonderful while it was cooking. The spices were just right... not too strong, not to mild. And you really don't miss the meat.
I loved the simplicity of this soup... a one-pot dish. It can be a wonderful dinner option.... transporting you to a different part of the world without ever leaving your home. I am so glad I tried this soup... definitely will be making it again. Hope you enjoy...
Tips: If you don't want to use canned coconut milk, you can opt to make your own version: Soak 1 cup of unsweetened shredded dry coconut in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes. Pour in a blender and blend the coconut and water until smooth. Strain through a nut-milk bag or cheese cloth....you may or may not need to use all of it(it probably won't have the same thickness as when using canned coconut milk...but it's a thought).
~ Fresh garden tomatoes will also probably work instead of the canned... but I would probably add a bit of tomato paste just to intensify the tomato flavor.
~You can add all sorts of other vegetables to the soup...potatoes(sweet or regular), chickpeas, peas, squash, etc...and/or any meat/seafood you like....feel free to add some grated ginger as well.
~ While I left my soup chunky...you can also use an immersion blender and blend some or most of the vegetables...or opt to use crushed tomatoes rather than diced.
You will need: inspired by The Traveler's Lunchbox
Serves: about 6 people
2 tablespoons oil( you could easily use coconut)
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped( I used red)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro(stems and leaves)...I used 2 TBS dried
2 large carrots, chopped
cayenne pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 1/3 cups chicken stock
2 (14oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter*
1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste
* you can use store-bought..or you can make your own
Chopped cilantro leaves
Sliced hot pepper(optional)
1. If making your own peanut butter, add about 1 1/4 cups of roasted peanuts in a food processor. Process until mixture comes together in a ball...1-2 minutes ... or until you see that the peanuts have turned into a paste. Set aside...
3. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper. Cook until the onion has softened and turned golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the carrots, cayenne, cilantro, and curry powder.
4. Fry until the spices are fragrant, about a minute more.
5. Add the stock and tomatoes...and all the tomato juice. Stir well and bring to a boil.
6. Lower the heat and let cook gently until the vegetables soften some more.... about 20 minutes. Remember to stir it occasionally.
7. Add the peanut butter and coconut milk. Whisk it to thoroughly combine.
8. Continue cooking until the soup has thickened... about another 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning... with salt and pepper. If you would like to add some cooked meat you can do so
in this step... you can do the same with fresh shrimp and fish, though that won't take too long to cook so add it in the last couple of minutes or so.
9. Serve hot alongside or on top of the cooked grain of choice...top with chopped peanuts, cilantro and chives/chiles.