Let me just tell you how excited I am about this recipe… West African Peanut Stew is something I’ve wanted to make for years and just never got around to it. I ran across yet another recipe for it the other day and decided to finally go for it. I was in the mood and I didn’t have plans to cook anything else, so why not?
As I was cooking this stew I got absolutely giddy with excitement. I love the ingredients. It starts with garlic and ginger (one of my all time favorite flavor combinations) and just piles on healthy ingredient after healthy ingredient, like sweet potatoes, collard greens, and tomato paste. It’s a rainbow of nutrients in one bowl and you can just feel the goodness. That’s how food should be—outstanding in both flavor and nutrition. This stew definitely makes the grade.
There are many different versions of West African Peanut Stew, so I pulled my favorite aspects from the many versions I’ve seen. I kept the base simple with just vegetable broth, tomato paste, and peanut butter. I went a little lighter on the PB to keep the stew a bit lighter, but if you prefer a thicker, peanutty-er flavor, you can always stir in more at the end. If you want a chunkier stew, try adding a can of diced tomatoes as well. I like my stew spicy, so I used both red pepper flakes and sriracha to garnish after cooking, but you can leave the stew 100% by skipping the red pepper. If you want something more protein filled, you can add shredded chicken and use chicken broth in place of the vegetable broth. And lastly, I was pleased to find collard greens were the least expensive green at my store this week, but if you can’t find collard greens you can use mustard greens or kale (go for the flat varietiy, lacinato or dino kale).
You can eat this stew on its own, or add a scoop of rice (I used brown jasmine rice) for more texture and filling power. I added peanuts as a garnish in the photo so that people would know what they are looking at, but they’re not necessary for the soup. I used chunky peanut butter and that provides all the peanut flavor and texture you’ll need.
West African Peanut Stew (vegan)
West African Peanut Stew (vegan)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil ($0.02)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
- 1 inch fresh ginger ($0.15)
- 1 medium sweet potato (1 lb) ($1.32)
- 1 medium onion ($0.42)
- 1 tsp cumin ($0.10)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
- 6 oz can tomato paste ($0.59)
- 1/2 cup natural style chunky peanut butter ($0.93)
- 6 cups vegetable broth ($0.81)
- 1/2 bunch 2-3 cups chopped collard greens ($0.75)
- 1/4 bunch cilantro garnish (optional) ($0.21)
- Peel and grate the ginger using a small holed cheese grater. Mince the garlic. Sauté the ginger and garlic in vegetable oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic becomes soft and fragrant.
- Dice the onion, add it to the pot, and continue to sauté. Dice the sweet potato (1/2 inch cubes), add it to the pot, and continue to sauté a few minutes more, or until the onion is soft and the sweet potato takes on a darker, slightly translucent appearance. Season with cumin and red pepper flakes.
- Add the tomato paste and peanut butter, and stir until everything is evenly mixed. Add the vegetable broth and stir to dissolve the thick tomato paste-peanut butter mixture. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high.
- While the soup is coming up to a boil, prepare the collard greens. Rinse the greens well, then use a sharp knife to remove each stem (cut along the side of each stem). Stack the leaves, then cut them into thin strips. Add the collard strips to the soup pot.
- Once the soup reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer without a lid for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Once soft, smash about half of the sweet potatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to help thicken the soup. Taste the soup and add salt if needed (will depend on the brand of broth used).
- Serve the stew hot with a few cilantro leaves if desired.
Step by Step Photos
Use a vegetable peeler or the side of a sharp spoon to scrape the thin skin off the ginger, then use a small holed grater to grate about one inch of the ginger. Ginger comes in all widths, so “one inch” is a flexible measurement. Just get about a tablespoon or so of ginger. Also mince 4 cloves of garlic. Begin to sauté the ginger and garlic in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium heat.
While the ginger and garlic are sautéing, dice the onion, then add it to the pot. Next, peel and dice one sweet potato (about 1 lb.) and also add it to the pot.
The easiest way to dice a sweet potato is to first cut it into rounds, then stack a few rounds and cut them crosswise into a dice. Make the sweet potato pieces small, about 1/2 inch, so they’ll cook quickly.
Continue to sauté until the onions are soft and the sweet potato gets a little darker and looks slightly translucent. Add 1 tsp cumin and about 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.
Next add 1 (6oz.) can of tomato paste and 1/2 cup natural style chunky peanut butter. It’s important to get natural style because it doesn’t have any sugar or other oils added, which tend to dampen the strong peanut flavor. I chose chunky to add texture to the stew, but if you happen to have smooth on hand, you can use that.
Stir the tomato paste and peanut butter together in the pot until it’s well combined (it will be thick and pasty).
Add 6 cups of vegetable broth and stir until the paste has dissolved in. Place a lid on top and turn the heat up to high. Prepare the collards while the soup is heating.
Collard greens usually come in a big bunch, similar to kale. I used about half of this bunch. Sometimes you can find it pre-washed and pre-chopped in a bag, and if you can, you will use about 2-3 cups. Whatever you do, be sure to wash them really, REALLY well. Sand = not good.
Take sharp knife and run it along each side of the stem to remove it. I went ahead and cut all the way through the top so that each leaf was cut in two.
Then simply stack the stemmed leaves and cut crosswise into strips. I actually cut one more time lengthwise to make the strips a bit shorter, too.
Add the collard greens to the soup. The soup should be boiling by this point. If it’s not, continue to let it heat over a high flame. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid off.
After 15 minutes, test the sweet potato to see if it’s soft. Once the sweet potatoes are really soft, start mashing them against the side of the pot with the back of the spoon. This will help thicken the stew. After everything is all mashed up, give the stew a taste to see if it needs more salt (this will depend on the type of broth you used. I use Better Than Bouillon, which tends to have plenty of salt, so I didn’t add any).
And that’s it! You can serve it up as is, add some fresh cilantro (because peanut+cilantro=awesome), or even add a dash of sriracha. I like to add a scoop of brown jasmine rice, but that’s just me. :)