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Groundnut Stew


From West Africa to the American South, this satisfying dish is a mainstay in the Black community. That’s one of the reasons I did it for one of my Top Chef challenges; the other is that it’s so yummy. My version of this classic peanut-based dish is silky smooth, not thick and cloying, and it has a rich, spicy undertone. Enjoy it just as it is or serve it over rice for a hearty main dish.

From Cooking With Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You

Serves 4 - 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

1 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock

1 fresh or dried bay leaf

1/4 habanero chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced, plus more if you like

1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 15-ounce can small red beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1 lime, cut into wedges

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onion, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has lightly browned and caramelized a little, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Don’t let the mix burn!

Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the habanero. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the sweet potato and raise the heat to medium. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes, then stir in the beans. Transfer 1/2 cup liquid from the pan to a small bowl. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth, then add the peanut butter mixture back into the pan. Resist the urge to just throw the peanut butter straight into the soup; it doesn’t work!

Stir in the pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste. At this point, the soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; otherwise, return the soup to a simmer, then remove and discard the bay leaf. When ready to serve, garnish with the peanuts, parsley, and mint. Serve with the lime wedges.

Carla's Tips:

• I use hot habanero chile in this stew and start with just a little. After you’ve simmered the soup but before you put the sweet potatoes in, taste to see if the spice level is where you want it. If you want more heat, just add more chile.

• You can enjoy this right away, but if you want even more depth of flavor, just let it sit for an hour at room temperature before reheating it and serving. And this is definitely one of those soups that’s better after it sits in the fridge overnight.

What goes great after Groundnut Stew?

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