African Peanut Soup with Coconut Creme

I was gifted a cookbook recently (thank you JC!): Born to Cook: A Passion for Flavour, written by Chef Victor Bongo, a Congolese chef whose global cuisine has won international acclaim.

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When I cracked open its hardcover, I was greeted with mouthwatering photos of appetizers, soups, mains, and desserts. The book is not only a collection of drool-worthy recipes from around the world, it also tells the story of Chef Bongo: his love for food, his family, and the Congo.

If you’ve never tried African food, this is a great place to start! The African peanut soup recipe is relatively easy to prepare, yet it has a rich and complex flavour profile. I love the creaminess of the coconut milk, the smokiness of the allspice, and the crunch of the roasted peanut garnish. This soup also packs a nutrition punch, it has beta-carotene from the yam, vitamin C from bell peppers, and protein from the peanut butter. If lowering fat intake is a priority for you, try using 1/2 cup of fat-reduced coconut milk and increasing the amount of water or vegetable broth by 1/2 cup.

I made a few modifications to the original recipe: I used water in place of vegetable broth (yet it was still plenty flavourful), and I omitted green plantains and okra (points for authenticity if you include them). I also pureed the soup to better blend the flavours– Chef Bongo encouraged his readers to experiment, and I pass on the same message to you.

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African Peanut Soup with Coconut Creme

Modified from: Born to Cook: A Passion for Flavour by Victor Bongo

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup each: carrots and celery, medium dice
  • 3/4 cup yams, medium dice
  • 1/4 cup each: red, orange, and green bell pepper, medium dice
  • 1 tablespoon each: ginger and garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground coriander and ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: ground turmeric and cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used on that’s made with roasted peanuts and salt)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • for garnish: finely diced mixed bell peppers, cilantro, and chopped roasted peanuts

Method

  1. To make the coconut creme, reduce coconut milk by half in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cool in fridge.
  2. Once cool, mix in crème fraîche or sour cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. To make the soup, heat vegetable oil in a large pot (with a lid) over medium, once hot, add onion and saute for 10-12 minutes, or until it is caramelized.
  4. Add carrots, celery and yams, cook for 5-7 minutes with the lid on.
  5. Add the 3 kinds of bell peppers, cook for 5 minutes with the lid on.
  6. Add ginger and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the spices, cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add coconut milk and water (or vegetable broth), stir in tomato paste and peanut butter. With the lid on, bring soup to a boil over high heat then simmer until vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes).
  9. Puree soup using a blender until no chunks remain, season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.
  10. To serve, garnish with coconut creme, finely diced mixed bell peppers, cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts.
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