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.
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.
African Peanut Soup with Coconut Creme
Modified from: Born to Cook: A Passion for Flavour by Victor Bongo
- 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
- To make the coconut creme, reduce coconut milk by half in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cool in fridge.
- Once cool, mix in crème fraîche or sour cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- 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.
- Add carrots, celery and yams, cook for 5-7 minutes with the lid on.
- Add the 3 kinds of bell peppers, cook for 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Add ginger and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the spices, cook for 1 minute.
- 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).
- Puree soup using a blender until no chunks remain, season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.
- To serve, garnish with coconut creme, finely diced mixed bell peppers, cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts.