Friday, October 21, 2011

Vegetarian West African Soup

Earlier in the month I used homemade nut butter (from cashews) to mimic a creamy Alfredo sauce for pasta (see post for Fettuccine with Cashew Cream).  Homemade nut butter can also be used as a thickener in soup, a technique used in the groundnut stew common to many parts of West Africa, notably Senegal and the Gambia.  The stew is based around ground peanuts, tomatoes, and onions, and although many varieties will include meat, such as mutton, you can make the soup vegan in a pinch with the addition of chickpeas.

  • 2/3 cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 cups (1-inch) cubed and peeled sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) drained cans chickpeas
  • 28 ounces vegetable broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) undrained can diced tomatoes
  • Flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional for garnish)
1. Place the peanuts in a food processor and process for about 2 minutes, until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.

2. Heat the canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion; saute for 7 minutes.  Add the ground peanuts, sweet potato, cumin, black pepper, salt, chickpeas, broth, and canned tomatoes.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes - the sweet potato should be tender.

3. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with flat-leaf parsley sprigs for a nice pop of color.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 and 1/2 cups), Calories 477 

Tasting Notes:
A perfect fall soup.  The peanut butter will go into the pan in a clump, but will slowly melt and diffuse into the broth as the stew simmers, resulting in a subtle, peanut-y taste to each bite.  I would up the flavor even more next time by adding a few chopped peanuts.  I worried the 1 tablespoon of cumin would be too spicy, but I actually found myself desiring a bit more spice, something to add another dimension.  Try adding cinnamon or coriander to liven things up.  Aside from that, wonderfully tender sweet potato, super tasty chickpeas, and incredibly filling.   Definitely add the flat-leaf parsley on top - the bright flavor is a welcome contrast to the earthiness of the soup.


Vegan Extra:
An extra note on nut butters: you can certainly go ahead and make more homemade peanut butter than just the amount for this soup - it's a wonderful alternative to the store-bought kind, and perfect for super-fresh peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Just keep in mind that it won't keep as long as store-bought peanut butter; store it in the fridge safely for about a month.

Or, try cashew butter; it's a perfect substitute for tahini in any of your favorite hummus recipes, and is also great on sandwiches - try it in a pita pocket with sliced avocado, shredded carrots, and gourmet greens.

Finally, homemade pecan butter will be slightly grainy in texture. Although not the best for spreading onto bagels or sandwiches, it works nicely in a sauce over Gardein chicken.

No comments:

Post a Comment