Friday 17 October 2014

West African Peanut Soup

Once upon a time there was a man who ran Queensland, and who was a peanut farmer.  He knocked down many iconic and historic buildings in the dead of night, leaving big gaps to be filled by high-rise monstrosities- hmm mmm, well enough of that before I get into trouble.  Anyway, one sunny blue-sky day, Mr Pickings (before he became Mr Pickings) and I headed up and out - i.e. a bit west and a bit north- and came across the peanut farmer's property.   There were lots of peanut plants in his fields and sad to say, Mr Pickings and I were a wee bit felonious.  So some peanuts happened to leap into the back of our well-ventilated car (so well-ventilated you could see the road rush by under our feet), and came home with us to be made into a peanutty dish.  I don't cook with peanuts often - make that nearly never, but this soup is full of peanutty goodness in the form of peanut butter (or paste for all you dyed-in-the-wool Queenslanders).  I was not born and bred here so I have an excuse to forswear that nomenclature.  Yep I mean I can say peanut butter instead of peanut paste!  This soup is really creamy and nutty and so tasty that Mr Pickings just can't stop at one bowl.  Or do I mean me?  So this morning I have been happily making this soup and driving the neighbours crazy with the delicious smells wafting their way through my kitchen windows.  I will now forever have the aroma of this soup interwoven in my brain and memorybank of smells with the wonderful linseed-like tang of Tradies' Bog, while the handyman fills holes in our back deck handrails.


2 medium onions (red, white, brown-whatever you choose)
3 Aussie tbs (ie 20mls spoon) of peanut oil and/or olive oil
1 medium red capsicum
1 medium green capsicum
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of chilli paste or to taste - I used hot chilli paste and it ended up being about 4 tsps!  (We like it hot chez Pickings)
salt and pepper to taste
1 x 400g can of diced tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes chopped
1 L chicken stock
3/4 cup peanut butter
150g cooked and chopped chicken
lime wedges
roasted and chopped peanuts for garnish
chilli flakes if desired


Take a large saucepan and pour in the oil
Chop the onions and throw them into the heated oil
Leave them cooking away with a lid on the pan till they become soft and glistening- keep an eye on them so they don't burn, and stir regularly
Add the chopped capsicums and keep cooking on a low heat till they are gloriously soft and shiny
Garlic, chilli paste, salt and pepper go in next
Cook till garlic is soft
When it is all thick and reduced and golden and smelling deeevine, add the tomatoes and chicken stock
Now bring it to the boil and whisk in the peanut butter- it will be looking thick and smell so fragrant
Add the chopped chicken
Check for seasoning- add more salt and pepper if need be
Throw in some chilli flakes if you want to beef up the heat
Garnish with peanuts
Serve with crusty bread and lime wedges

frying off the onions till golden and fragrant

adding capsicum then tomatoes

whisk in peanut butter and add chicken

serve with lime wedges and garnish with chilli and peanuts

(stock image - Author Texnik)

And isn't it funny that a peanut is not a nut at all but a legume, and grows underground?  (Oops! I forgot to mention that you can find variations of this recipe on the good old interweb, but I actually have this recipe from a tatty old Gourmet Traveller magazine.)


  1. Haha I can just picture you doing that and laughing while you were making your getaway! :P I've made this as a chicken stew and it was delicious.

    1. The fence was so low it was dead easy. Kind of like in Tassie with the opium poppy fields. I guess they think the sign about resulting in death is enough! The poppies I mean:)

  2. It had never occurred to me that a peanut is a legume! All other nuts grow on trees and I hadn't thought of the difference. I love the story of how you 'gathered' your peanuts. I don't cook with peanuts often but when I do it's usually because I'm making a spicy dish like this xx

    1. hi charlie
      i guess most of us just eat salted peanuts with a drink or 2:) They are definitely weird little beasties growing away underground.

  3. Yes, I too once saw the Peanut Farmer's farm when I was travelling through Queensland conducting microwave cooking class - oh my goodness that was many years ago - looks a great recipe Sherry, if only JR would eat peanuts!

    1. were you living in queensland rachel? or just travelling thru?

  4. Yes, I once too saw the Peanut Farmer's farm when travelling through QLD conducting microwave cooking class - my goodness that was a very long time ago! Looks like a great recipe Sherry - if only JR would eat peanuts!

    1. peanuts are funny little things! hard to believe that people can die from eating them. yes indeed it was quite a long time ago....


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