Recipe: African Yam & Peanut Soup

I was an adult before I grew to appreciate the sweet potato. My mother used to eat it mashed with margarine and brown sugar, which horrified me to no end (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth unless dark chocolate is involved). Combined with savory ingredients, however, I discovered that this nutrient-packed vegetable is absolutely delicious.

This hearty soup freezes well for future meals. Pair with a crusty whole grain roll and a green salad.

African Yam & Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
2 tablespoons minced or crushed garlic (the crushed stuff in the jar works very well)
2 medium-sized yams or sweet potatoes (about the size of typical large russet baking potatoes), peeled and chunked
4 cups vegetable broth
1 28 oz. (or 2 15 oz.) can(s) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 lb. textured vegetable protein (TVP)
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ cup chunky natural peanut butter
½ cup coconut milk
Shelled peanuts for garnish

Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a kettle or stock pot over medium heat until hot (test by splashing a drop of water into the pan – if it sizzles, it is hot enough). Add the curry powder and stir constantly until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the chopped onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until just softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the sweet potato chunks, vegetable broth and diced tomatoes, stir everything together, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Check and stir occasionally, adjusting heat if needed to maintain a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of peanut oil over medium heat until hot. Add the textured vegetable protein and stir it to break up any clumps. Saute until browned. Season with ½ teaspoon salt (if necessary – TVP is often salty enough on its own, so use your taste buds here) and ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Remove from the heat.

Add the TVP, ½ teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, ½ cup of peanut butter, and ½ cup of coconut milk to the soup pot. Stir well to combine and bring back to a simmer. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Use a potato masher at the very end to make sure the soup has a very thick, stew- or chili-like consistency. Adjust salt and pepper if needed – you’re looking for a sweet-and-sour flavor with a little kick to it.

Ladle into soup bowls and top with a tablespoon or two of shelled peanuts.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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