It’s unusual for Keith and I to be out on a walk after midnight. We’re 40 now, after all, and really need our beauty sleep. But last night was different, there was to be a meteor shower, a big one, from the tail of Hailey’s comet.
Our good friends were visiting from out of town and we spent the evening playing Texas Hold’em for terribly valuable wooden toothpicks, trying to stay awake for the promised celestial show. So at midnight we headed out for a walk, a pretty long walk, in the 33 degree air.
Stars winked at us from an ebony background; planets shimmered in blues and greens; the moon and clouds had the night off. We oohed and awwed, but saw not. a. single. shooting star.
But I don’t mind. I love this time of year, when the chill is back and the sky is crisp. I love it partly because it makes me think of soup.
Have you had West African Chicken and Peanut soup before? Thank you Africa! It’s delicious – at once spicy, sweet, fresh, hearty, decadent. If the combination of ingredients seems strange, don’t worry. Please try it anyway – I promise you’ll love it.
(For a vegetarian version – this looks amazing!)
- 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (a microplane makes quick work of this)
- 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and diced (and peeled if you like)
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 28 ounce jar (or can) chopped tomatoes with juice
- 14 ounce can coconut milk (light or full fat)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 large handful of chopped cilantro
- Heat coconut or olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add chicken thighs in a single layer and brown on both sides. You’ll want to do this in a couple of batches so they brown instead of steam. Remove chicken and set aside.
- Add onions to pot; cook and stir for 3-4 minutes scraping up any browned bits of chicken. Add ginger and garlic; cook and stir about 30 seconds, just until fragrant. Add the next 7 ingredients – sweet potatoes through tomatoes. Stir until well combined and peanut butter is distributed. Return chicken thighs to pot, stir, and bring to a simmer.
- Cover the pot and simmer gently for one hour. Remove the chicken thighs and set them aside for a few moments until they’re cool enough to handle. Use two forks to shred the meat and return to stew. Add coconut milk and stir to combine. Cover and simmer 15 minutes more.
- Add salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne (if you like some kick) to taste. Ladle in to individual soup bowls and garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Serves 8-10