Contains: Peanuts, nightshades. Is: Gluten-free, has vegetarian/vegan-option.
This recipe is dedicated to the memory of one of my best friends – Kat Hosinski, who unexpectedly passed away sometime November first this month. She was a companion in the desire for going a homesteading route. She was also my room-mate in my junior year of college. I was hoping to get her out here to New England this coming May. If reincarnation does exist, may she achieve her dreams in the next life.
For vegan: Right off the bat, change the chicken stock to veggie stock, and omit the chicken. Add some sautéed tofu, tempeh or cooked beans if you want some more protein in this (although peanuts do have plenty of protein already). I’d personally go with adding extra peanuts.
For omnivorous: (This is what I’m going to concentrate on.) I wanted to make this using my home-grown chickens. It has probably only been very recently that West African people had access to western supermarket-style Cornish Cross poultry (if even now!), so I am going to use one of my own heritage stewing cockerels for this recipe. If you use a store bought chicken, you should cook it less long. I’ll try to give indications for that.
If you are allergic to peanuts, do try cashews instead. Unfortunately I won’t ever test that alternative out, as I can’t eat cashews without major gastrointestinal distress. (Might not be a “true allergy” but as it turns out — I Don’t Care. Having to find a pit stop at a moment’s notice counts for a problem to me.)
I opted for collards over kale, as that’s traditional, but kale is a great alternative where collards are not available. I didn’t feel like crushing my own peanuts, so I got chunky peanut butter. Besides, I’d never finish those large bags that were available at my supermarket – peanuts go a long way in this house.
I made my own chicken stock using my own cockerel – I’m including that part here, as it also pre-cooked the chicken – which for a cockerel of this age is a good idea. If you want to make your stock from a supermarket chicken: when it is time to make the actual soup or stew, use uncooked chicken meat for the actual chicken that goes into the soup.
I decided to make my own broth to get the most use out of my cockerel, as well as because I don’t think African broths are truly based on mirepoix – but no problem at all if this is what you decide to use! I went with onion and ginger, and added lemon to help draw out the collagen from the joints. This broth will not be clear – you won’t be straining it, and the browning of the meat means the coloration will be darker.
No, I don’t add salt to my broth while I am making it. I always add it later, when I know what I plan to do with it, and where I don’t have to worry about adding too much too early.
Why didn’t I use the wings in my recipe? No other reason but that I’m saving them up for some future wing-fest! And I removed the skin from the stock-making because I wanted to bake up some crispy skin from this particular chicken…
Some reference sources. Note that it appears there’s no set recipe, but a lot of commonalities. I could have added crushed or minced garlic – but this was excellent as it was.
Prep Time (if making broth): 15 minutes.
Cook Time: (if making broth): 2.5 – 4.5 hours.
Prep Time: 20 minutes.
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes.
Rest Time: Unnecessary.
Cuisine: West African.
West African Peanut Soup or Stew with Chicken
Optional part one, if you are making the stock for this soup:
- Lots of chicken. In my case, I used a nearly-whole heritage breed cockerel (omitting the innards and the wings – I did add the wing-tips.) I included the feet and neck. I’d de-skinned most of this, but you can leave the skin on. Otherwise: if you don’t have the feet, use the wings. Also, you can add in bones from pre-roasted/otherwise cooked chicken, left over from earlier meals. Bones are necessary for any good stock.
- 1 yellow or white onion, peeled and quartered.
- 1 large lemon, sliced.
- Optional: Fresh ginger, heaping teaspoon, minced.
- High temp cooking oil or ghee.
Brown the chicken in the cooking oil, medium high, about 4 minutes per side. (Only brown thighs, drumsticks, breast and backs.) Not necessary to brown parts that are left over from previous meals. Put slits in the paw area of any chicken feet, to help draw out collagen.
Add to crock pot / slow cooker, along with onion and lemon. Follow with ginger, if using, then cover everything with sufficient water to mostly submerge.
Run crock pot on high for 2.5 – 4.5 hours, depending on the chicken you are using. Young chickens will run less long than older birds.
Remove meat from the slow cooker, and debone. Dispose of the lemon slices but you can retain the onion. You can continue to slow-cook parts of this you don’t plan to eat otherwise… the feet, wing tips, bones with any collagen still attached – but reserve everything else. Some or all will be used in Part Two, depending on your decisions.
Here are photos for the stock making session – using a heritage cockerel at 7 months of age (Barred Rock). Technically, I certainly could have gotten to him 2 or so months sooner.
Essential part two, for this soup or stew:
- Chicken stock. From the above, I had 3.33 cups of stock (which was semi-concentrated over what you’d find in the supermarket).
- Water to make six cups liquid volume. (ie, stock plus this water) This is for a soup. For a stew, just use less liquid, to preference.
- Chicken pieces, de-skinned. I also de-boned most that I used. In my case, from the above cockerel, I used 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks (bone-in), and about a third or so of the breast meat. (Which on a heritage Barred Rock cockerel, isn’t that much.) I left the pieces on the larger side, but fit your preference. Anything you don’t use here you can use elsewhere.
- 1 onion, yellow or white, skinned and chopped.
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced.
- 1 bunch of collards / collard greens. Or, failing finding that, use kale or Swiss chard.
- 14 ounces / half a can here in the US / 397 – effectively 400 grams diced tomato. (I would have preferred a chunky stewed tomato but, hey.)
- 3-4 teaspoons ginger paste (less if you use ginger when making your stock)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- Start with 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I ended up with 1/2, and some readers will really up the ante on this.)
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter, no other ingredients in the peanut butter but salt.
- Optional roasted peanuts, de-shelled, for garnish. Chop finely.
In a good stewpot, add everything except the peanut butter and the optional peanuts. You can adjust liquid volume downward if you want a thicker stew than a soup. (Yes, those collards will shrink!) The chicken can be added raw, or as with a cockerel, rooster or full grown hen, can be pre-cooked as I did while making stock.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Measure out 1 cup of the peanut butter into a larger measuring cup. Dole out about a half cup of the broth from the cooking pot, and, using a large spoon, mix them together so they blend. Pour into the pot, scraping as necessary. Mix.
Simmer, covered, another 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, or add more water if you wish. Allow a couple more minutes to blend and meld, taste again – and serve.
Add chopped peanuts as garnish if desired. If you do this as a stew, serve over cooked millet, teff or fonio (or optionally, barley or rice). The former are native to Africa. Otherwise if making this as a soup, one of those grains could make a great side. (Gluten is in most of those – obviously not the rice.)