West African Peanut Soup With Chicken

Evan Sung for the New York Times

Evan Sung for the New York Times

4 servings

40 minutes

This West African soup is about as different from a traditional European chicken-in-a-pot soup as you can get, flavored with ginger, garlic and chiles (sounds Chinese, yes?), and incorporating vegetables like sweet potatoes and kale. Then of course there are the peanuts. When it comes to the peanut butter, “natural” peanut butter, made from peanuts and salt and nothing else, works best. Chunky or creamy? It doesn’t matter much. Finally, it’s nice to time the cooking so that the sweet potatoes do not quite fall apart.


¾ cup roasted and shelled peanuts
2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
1 medium red or white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ pound skinless, boneless chicken (about 2 thighs or breasts) cut into chunks
Pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups stock or water
2 sweet potatoes or yams (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into thick slices
8 plum tomatoes, cored and halved (canned are fine; drain and reserve liquid for another use)
½ pound collards or kale, washed and cut into wide ribbons
¼ to ½ cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth


1. Chop peanuts, or crush them with the side of a knife, or pulse them in a food processor to chop roughly.

2. Put oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium heat; a minute later, add onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, until just coloring. Add 1/2 cup peanuts and the cayenne and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Stir in the stock and the sweet potatoes, bring to a boil, and turn heat down to medium-low so the soup bubbles gently. Stir in tomatoes and collards, then cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

4. Stir in 1/4 cup peanut butter. Taste, adjust seasoning (you may want to add more peanut butter at this point) and serve, garnished with remaining peanuts.

Recipe published in The New York Times