Groundnut Soup

Groundnut Soup

This spicy soup is traditionally made with roasted groundnuts (peanuts)
although peanut butter is commonly used today. Flavoured with ginger,
garlic, tomato and chicken, it’s your lip-smacking passport to West Africa.

In legend, the soup first appeared in 1600s West Africa after Spanish and Portuguese colonists brought groundnuts from South America. The nuts were an ideal thickener when dairy products were difficult to obtain. Today, African- Americans often serve peanut butter soup during the holiday of Kwanzaa between December 26 and January 1 to celebrate the nut's tie to their African roots.

You’ll need
1 whole chicken, jointed,
preferably free range and
corn fed
2 medium onions, peeled
Salt to taste
1 large, very ripe tomato
1 Scotch bonnet chilli pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
3cm (1¼in) piece of ginger,
peeled and grated
3 tbs peanut butter
1 small glass of water
Additional water
Omo tuo (rice balls) or fufu
(pounded cassava) to serve

Cooking Method
1 Put the chicken pieces in a large pot, cast iron if possible.
2 Chop one of the onions and scatter over the chicken along with a pinch of salt.
3 Put the pan on the lowest heat, cover and cook very gently for 15 minutes.
4 Don’t chop the remaining onion, the tomato or the Scotch bonnet chilli pepper; instead keep them whole and add them to the pot with the cayenne pepper and grated ginger, then cook gently for 10 more minutes.
5 Meanwhile put the peanut butter in a blender along with the glass of water and whizz to a smooth paste.
6 Pour the peanut paste into the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
7 Remove the tomato, onion and Scotch bonnet chilli pepper from the pan. Put them in the blender and puree to a smooth paste.
8 Transfer the paste back into the pot, add enough water to just cover the chicken and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with omo tuo or fufu.

Tasting notes
You’re not looking for a bowl of liquid peanut butter; the best groundnut soup is an exercise in subtle nuttiness – deep, rich and enhanced by the zing of Scotch bonnet chillies and an aromatic, tomatoey base. The texture should be silky smooth without descending into sauce-like thickness. Then there’s the business of mopping up. Some prefer the dense stickiness of omo tuo (balls of pudding rice); others a doughy glob of fufu (pounded cassava). Chicken pieces should be firm and on the bone – all the better for dunking and slurping. And forget about cutlery – using your hands is all part of the experience (eat with your right hand please!).

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