A Sarcastic Appetite

Bittman’s West African Peanut Soup With Chicken
June 15, 2009, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


A week ago, Clay filed a request that I make more carbohydrate-friendly dinners, (“60% carbs and 40% protein”) because as someone who claimed to be doing a “low-carb” diet, he was worried his body was in a “catabolic state, using protein as carbs,” and would I please do something about it already??


So I grudgingly set aside several hours one night last week to make a big batch of bolognese sauce and a loaf of banana bread. But he seemed particularly hell-bent on adding sweet potatoes into his newfangled diet, so I kept my eyes peeled for a recipe that would satisfy both of us.

Lo and behold, Mark Bittman saved the day – with the added bonus that his recipe required plenty of peanut butter, and would make use of that chicken stock I had lying around. I couldn’t find kale, so I substituted swiss chard, and merely cooked it for less time, about 4 minutes. The nice part about this soup is that it comes together relatively easily and quickly; for every successful soup or stew I’ve made, another one has gone down in infamy for having rock-hard meat or potatoes even after hours of simmering on the stove. All told, this was really a breeze; I made only very minor adjustments along the way.

My only quibble? The broth in the end result has the unfortunate distinction of resembling, well, dirty dishwater. But the greens and the potatoes are still vibrant, and once you throw some of those peanuts on there, well, you can’t really resist. Something tells me this will be even better tomorrow. Guess there’s only one way to find out…


West African Peanut Soup with Chicken

From the New York Times.

Serves 4, supposedly, but I’ve got enough to serve more like 6.

3/4 c. roasted peanuts

2 tbsp. canola oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks and sprinkled with salt and pepper

1 dried red chili, crushed (I used about 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes instead)

lots of salt and ground black pepper

6 c. chicken stock

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

8 plum tomatoes, cored and halved

1/2 lb. kale (or swiss chard, really, it’s ok) washed well and cut into ribbons

3/4 c. natural peanut butter, either chunky or smooth

Roughly chop the peanuts; set aside. Add the oil to a stock pot (unless you’ve got a saucepan big enough to hold all that; I sure don’t) and let it heat up for about a minute before adding the onion, ginger, and garlic. Stir until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, until browned on all sides. Add 1/2 c. of the peanuts and the chili (or the red pepper flakes), and lots of salt and pepper.

Add the chicken stock and the sweet potatoes; bring to a boil and then simmer until the chicken’s cooked through and the potatoes are almost fork tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and kale or swiss chard, and the peanut butter. Cook until the greens are cooked through and the sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 4 minutes. Add more peanut butter if you feel so inclined; serve in bowls and garnish with remaining peanuts and more freshly ground black pepper.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

To tune up the color a bit- why not puree some of the sweet potato with the stock, mamacita? That would give it a nice color/texture without adding any extra fats etc.

Comment by Jacque

Yes! Excellent point which I should have thought of sooner – especially because the broth in the end result is a little thin for my taste….

Comment by Emily

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