I had my weekly cooking class in NDG yesterday and every week we choose a different cooking theme. The first week we did comfort foods; salmon burgers and root vegetable fries with a healthy mayo-free coleslaw. Last week, we ate Meditteranean and I was able to use my mother’s Israeli recipes for hummus, tabouli, lentil soup and orange blossom syrup with fruits for dessert. This week, it was African cuisine, since one of the attendants is from the Congo, I asked if she wanted to share some of her recipes with us. She brought a dish of Cassava leaves which resembled an indian saag. Apparently, she woke up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare it, since it can take up to four hours for the leaves to soften! She also taught us to make Fufu, which is a common dish across West and Central Africa made from corn, rice or other grain. It is formed into a sticky pattie, that can be eaten with your hands and dipped into stews and soups. We used it to dunk into our peanut soup, which turned out so delicious that everyone had seconds, and we finished the entire pot full!
Here is the recipe for you all to try, this recipe was inspired by Mark Bittman:
African Peanut Soup3/4 cup shelled roasted peanuts 2 tablespoons peanut oil 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced 1 tablespoon garlic, minced 1 pinch cayenne (more or less to taste) salt to taste ½ can lite coconut milk fresh ground black pepper 6 cups vegetable stock or water 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices 8-12 plum tomatoes, cored and halved (canned are fine, drain and reserve liquid for another use) 1/2 lb collard greens or kale, washed thoroughly and cut into wide ribbons 1/4 cup chunky natural peanut butter
Use the flat side of a wide knife or cleaver or a small food processor to break the peanuts into large pieces. Put the oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 3-5 minutes.
Add ½ cup of the peanuts and the cayenne. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in the stock and sweet potatoes, bring to a boil, and turn the heat down to medium-low so that the soup bubbles gently. Partially cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, collards, coconut milk and peanut butter. Cover and cook until the greens are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve garnished with the remaining peanuts.
Variation: Creamy peanut soup Like velvet, but peanutty velvet: Omit the collards or kale. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender, and puree carefully. Gently reheat the soup, taste and adjust the seasoning, and garnish with the remaining peanuts.
Optional: you can top with this cooling but spicy cucumber sauce!
Cool Cucumber Sauce1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (about 1/2 cup) 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped if you want it spicy add: 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional) or chili flakes
2 tablespoons lime juice 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, rated 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cool Cucumber Sauce: Toss together all cucumber sauce ingredients in small bowl. Set aside to serve with Peanut Soup.