By Team Dirty
Mar 4, 2022,
Peanut stews are found throughout West Africa. Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, and Nigeria all claim peanut stew traditions that can vary from region to region. Our whole food plant based interpretation of this popular dish, sometimes called Maafe, Nkate, or Nkawan, was introduced in 2017 and since then, it’s been an all-time favorite of our community. While ingredients and styles can differ, a rich broth that includes tomatoes and peanuts is consistent across the board, and our variation is no different. Rich spices and flavorful veggies round it out. This West African-Inspired Peanut Stew is a rich, creamy crowd-pleaser.
There are hundreds of posts in our private Facebook group raving about how rich, creamy, delicious, and magical this soup is. Here’s what they say:
West African-Inspired Peanut Stew… I seriously think it is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten 🤩🤩🤩 my coworkers all asked for the recipe, my omni husband and my dad both were floored… winner winner chickenless dinner. 🤣
This is a regular staple dish of mine. It’s a “must-do” recipe! It’s a very satisfying dish, flavorful, beautiful…
It’s gluten-free, omnivores love it, kids love it, picky mothers-in-law love it, and you’ll love it, too. Have a peanut allergy? Don’t worry, we got you.
What you’ll need to make our West African-Inspired Peanut Stew
Spices: No Clean Food Dirty Girl recipe is complete without a carefully curated assortment of spices to complement and enhance the flavors of the dish. This stew includes spice trade staples like cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, chili, black pepper, cayenne, and clove.
Sweet potatoes: We use sweet potatoes as they’re typically more accessible in America than the fresh yams African cooks may prefer. Despite some misleading marketing, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing, and they’re not strictly interchangeable. We’ve built the flavor profile accordingly to work with sweet potatoes’ mild earthy sweetness.
Ginger: Fresh ginger adds a lovely sharpness that cuts through the richness of the stew and helps balance it.
This is just the beginning of deliciousness.
No credit card or perfection required.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes’ acidity and deep umami taste help balance and ground the stew while deepening the flavor.
Peanut butter: Yep, this stew’s most important ingredient is peanut butter. You may not have considered putting peanut butter in soup, but we promise it works. It more than works, it sings! Peanut butter adds rich creaminess and toasty nuttiness. You can substitute with another nut or seed butter, but don’t skip it entirely. It’s absolutely key.
Now, let’s make some stew!
First, measure out all of your spices into a small bowl and set aside. If you or a loved one doesn’t like spicy food, you can reduce or omit the cayenne.
When you’re chopping, slicing, and dicing, you can put the sweet potatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger into one bowl and the tomatoes and peanut butter in another. Keep your chopped kale separate.
Getting everything together before cooking is called mise en place. We love doing this because it helps things come together quickly and reduces the likelihood of mistakes while you’re multitasking. Give it a try if you’ve never done it. Or don’t and say you did, we’ll never know.
Now that your mise en place is in place (see what we did there?), heat a large pot like a stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat long enough for it to warm up, about 2–5 minutes.
Dump in the bowl with your sweet potatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Let them cook for about three minutes, stirring occasionally. If things start to stick to the bottom of the pot, add a tablespoon or two of water at a time and stir. No need to measure, you have enough going on, just add a splash as needed and move on.
Add the spices, stir to coat your veggies with them, and let them toast for about one minute. If they get too hot, they’ll go from toasty and aromatic to burned and bitter. While bitters can be fun in an adult beverage, we don’t want that in our soup, so we recommend you set a timer or listen to The White Stripe’s “Little Room” once. Up to you!
Now that your spices are nice and toasty, add your tomatoes and peanut butter. Stir well and be sure to scrape up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot. Finally, add the water and bring the soup to a boil. If your stovetop is a little underpowered, you can kick it up to medium-high, but we wouldn’t go much higher than that.
Once you’ve reached a boil, turn the heat to low, add the lid at an angle so there’s room for steam to escape, and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir every so often to keep things from sticking.
After 20 minutes, remove the lid, add your chopped kale and let it simmer for 10 more minutes (without the lid). After that, your sweet potatoes should be fork-tender. If not, cook for a few more minutes and check again.
You can serve your stew immediately with a few chopped peanuts on top or you can let it cool, store it in the fridge, and serve reheated the next day. The flavors will continue to meld and the stew will thicken as it cools. It only gets better.
If you have the patience to wait after smelling the incredible deliciousness that you’ve created, kudos to you! We, however, will be eating immediately and we hope you’ll pretend not to notice while we lick the bowl.
This recipe makes about eight cups or four full-sized servings and you can keep it in the fridge for about five days (if it lasts that long). It’s lovely served with a green salad or over cooked brown rice.
Peanut allergy got you down?
We don’t think a peanut allergy should keep you or your loved ones from enjoying this West African-Inspired Peanut Stew, AKA possibly the most delicious soup in the world, so we’ve got you covered.
There are three substitution options that we recommend. Choose whichever works best for your situation and budget.
Almond butter: Rich in flavor and easily accessible, this is probably the simplest and least expensive option. However, its texture isn’t as smooth and creamy as peanut butter.
Sunflower butter: Sunflower butter, or sunbutter, is a great option for those with more general nut allergies. It’s creamy and nutty in flavor, but not quite as rich as peanut butter.
Cashew butter: This is probably the best option in terms of flavor and texture. However, it can be quite pricey and possibly difficult to find.
Have you made our West African-Inspired Peanut Stew? Did it blow your mind and convince all your friends that you’re a magical genius? Let us know in the comments below.
For the stew
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder (omit if you don't like spicy)
- ⅛ teaspoon clove powder
- 3 cups sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 2 small to medium-sized / 395 g)
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced (160 g)
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced (75 g)
- 1⅓ tablespoons garlic, minced (10 g)
- 2 teaspoons ginger root, peeled and minced (8 g)
- 3 cups canned crushed or diced tomatoes (730 g)
- ½ cup peanut butter (130 g / no added salt or sugar / can sub with almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or cashew butter)
- 2½ cups water (590 ml)
- 3 cups kale, chopped (90 g)
For serving (optional)
- peanuts, chopped (toasted or raw)
- In a small dish, mix together the cumin, salt, cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, black pepper, cayenne, and clove powder. Set aside for now.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water and stir if things start to stick.
- Add the spices that you set aside earlier and toast for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomatoes and peanut butter and stir until all the peanut butter is mixed in and any stuck bits of spices are loosened up from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the water, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, with a lid on the pot at an angle. Stir every 5 minutes or so with a wooden spoon, making sure you get up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Take off the lid, add the kale and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, with the lid off the pot, until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
- Garnish with chopped peanuts and serve immediately or cool and store in the fridge. The stew will thicken and the flavors will continue to meld as it cools.
Here’s to licking the bowl.
Note: This recipe was originally featured on a blog post about how Betty Haynes, a Plant Fueled Life member, went from eating meat, dairy, and processed foods to a whole food plant based diet.
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