As we approach the cold weather, here's one of Wendi's favorite recipes she makes every fall and winter. This recipe was inspired by her educational stay in Ghana, West Africa.
- 3-4 lbs. of chicken pieces (free-range or roasting are best) I personally don’t add the chicken unless I know friends/family who eat meat will partake.
- 2 onions (enough for 2 cups, chopped)
- (NOTE: a few garlic cloves, peeled and chopped or pressed, and a teaspoon or 2 of fresh grated ginger, a sprinkling of salt or seasoned salt and ground red pepper are almost always optional seasonings for soups and stews)
- 3-6 cups of water (depending on whether you want soup or stew)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt (or to taste). I like to use Sea Salt
- ½ to 1 cup of creamy natural style peanut butter (no sugar added)
- 1 32-oz can tomato sauce (or substitute fresh ground, seeded tomatoes, or pureed canned tomatoes)
- 1 small can of tomato paste, or to taste
- ground red pepper to taste (at least 1/8 teaspoon), or fresh hot chili pepper
- okra, optional (about 8 fresh or about 5 oz. of frozen okra, tailed and left whole or chopped), can be cooked and served alongside as a condiment or stirred into the soup while it is simmering after the peanut butter mixture has been added.
okra, optional (about 8 fresh or about 5 oz. of frozen okra, tailed and left whole or chopped), can be cooked and served alongside as a condiment or stirred into the soup while it is simmering after the peanut butter mixture has been added.
1. Remove skin and fat from the chicken and put pieces into a heavy pot with a cup of the water. Peel and chop one of the onions and add them to the pot along with any additional seasonings (like a little salt, garlic, ginger, red pepper, etc.) and steam the chicken in a covered pot for a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Add the tomato sauce and paste, the rest of the chopped onion, the red pepper, and the remaining water (start with 4 cups for the soup). Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer.
3. In a medium saucepan, ladle about 2 cups of the soup broth into the pan, and mix it with the peanut butter. Heat the broth and peanut butter mixture on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the oil separates from the nuts and rises to the surface. This may take 15 or 20 minutes. NOTE: you can simply stir the peanut butter/broth mixture directly into the soup, but I’m describing how I was taught, and how I do it. Cooking it separately somehow flavors the peanut sauce more (like how browning would). Keep stirring or the peanut butter will scorch, and add a little more soup broth to it if necessary.
4. Ladle some of the soup into the sauce, stir it, and stir the mixture into the soup, taking care not to splatter yourself.
5. Add the okra, if cooking in the soup. Allow the soup to simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the flavors blend and the chicken and okra are cooked. Add more water if you prefer a thinner soup. Check the seasonings and add more salt, red pepper, etc., to taste. I also like to add sweet potato. You can leave the skin on or not.
6. When this is prepared as a stew (thicker) it can be served over rice like a curry, and small bowls of ingredients, from chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts, bananas, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, red or green sweet bell peppers, coconut, grated hard-boiled egg, onions (raw or sautéed), cooked chopped okra, etc. can be served in small bowls alongside it.
NOTES and serving suggestions:
When serving this as a stew and for large numbers of people, I often debone the cooked chicken since Americans don’t usually like to chew on bones the way West Africans do. Also, there are several short-cut options, especially if you wish to use this as a first course/starter: use prepared chicken broth, add all the other ingredients but omit the chicken pieces, and simply add the peanut butter after mixing it with the hot broth.
Use cooked okra or fresh chopped scallions as a garnish and instead of bread or rolls, serve the soup with mini-rice balls. If made a day ahead and reheated it seems to taste even better. Enjoy!