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Mark Bittman's Senegalese Peanut Soup

SERVES 4

  • 3/4 cup shelled roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 2 (1/2 lb) sweet potato, peeled and cut into thick slices or 2 yams, peeled and cut into thick slices
  • 8-12 plum tomatoes, cored and halved (canned are fine, drain and reserve liquid for another use)
  • 1/2 lb collard greens or kale, washed thoroughly and cut into wide ribbons
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

Use the flat side of a wide knife or cleaver or a small food processor to break the peanuts into large pieces.

Put the oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 3-5 minutes.

Add ½ cup of the peanuts and the cayenne. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in the stock and sweet potatoes, bring to a boil, and turn the heat down to medium-low so that the soup bubbles gently. Partially cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, collards and peanut butter. Cover and cook until the collards are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve garnished with the remaining peanuts.

Variation: Creamy peanut soup Like velvet, but peanutty velvet: Omit the collards or kale. Then in step 3, along with the peanut butter, stir in 1 cup rice milk, or coconut milk, either made from scratch or canned (use ½ can, slightly less than 1 cup, with a little water). Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender, and puree carefully. Gently reheat the soup, taste and adjust the seasoning, and garnish with the remaining peanuts.