Easy African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup

This soup is many things: cheap, vegan, healthy, rich, and delicious. The one thing it may not be is authentic; while versions of this soup abound, and they’re almost always called “African,” I have yet to see a recipe that didn’t come from an Anglo-American source. In any case, it’s one of my favorite hearty soups to make, and in its basic form – chop vegetables, boil ’em, and blend ’em with peanut butter and spices – it’s about as easy as recipes get. I’ve given a few variations at the bottom, if you want to get fancy, but the basic version doesn’t require more than what I have at home most of the time anyway.

Easy African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup
makes six servings

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (2-3 medium sweet potatoes)
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced (5-6 medium carrots)
2 small onions, peeled and diced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1 t ground turmeric
1 t cumin seeds
1 T salt

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
salt and pepper
Sriracha (“rooster sauce“) or other hot sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put the sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic in a large soup pot and add enough water to barely cover them. Add turmeric, cumin seeds, and salt. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are completely soft.

Using a food processor, blender, high-speed mixer, or old-fashioned potato masher, blend the vegetables until smooth. Add peanut butter, salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Stir in cilantro just before serving. Can also be refrigerated and served hot the next day, to let the flavors mellow overnight.

Optional Additions: Add a can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger, and/or a diced bell pepper to the vegetables before cooking. Stir in a tablespoon of ground spice mix (Indian garam masala, Chinese five-spice blend, or American pumpkin pie spice) at the end for a more curry-like taste. Blend with additional milk, coconut milk, or soy milk at the end to produce a thinner, creamier soup.

This entry was posted in Food.

3 comments on “Easy African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup

  1. agm says:

    Mayhaps the “African” goes with the “sweet potato” and not with the soup (i.e., soup made from)?

  2. agm, it’s a good thought. However, as I understand it, there’s technically no such thing as an African sweet potato; true yams are African, but they’re not particularly sweet. Also, I see it just as often as “African peanut soup,” even though peanuts, like sweet potatoes, are a New World food.

    I think it’s called that because the ingredients – sweet potatoes, peanuts, curry-ish spices – really are commonly used ingredients in modern African cooking, and the flavor combinations taste “ethnic” to American taste buds, but they definitely don’t fit within most of our usual mental “ethnic food” categories (Indian, Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, etc.). (Can you feel the cynicism coming through?)

    Of course, to be fair, it really could be similar to a traditional dish somewhere in Africa. I haven’t studied enough cookery from that continent to know. It just strikes me as a bit akin to McDonald’s “Asian Salad,” which is “Asian” because it contains snowpeas, edamame, oranges, and almonds, even if it’s not exactly a regional specialty anywhere in the diverse countries of Asia.

  3. Carrie says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I added a little bit of coconut milk at the end and it was very good!

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