West African Peanut Soup

4.98 from 208 votes

This West African peanut soup recipe is made with simple ingredients like peanut butter and tomato paste, but has a unique delicious flavor!

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I grew up in Sierra Leone, West Africa for 11 years and one of my favorite dishes growing up there is this Peanut Soup. This is a staple recipe where I’m from. But the ingredients are pretty basic so you can easily recreate this recipe with items you probably already have in your pantry!

Bowl of white rice with peanut soup over the rice

There are many variations of this recipe depending on the country of origin. My version is adapted from a recipe that I learned from my mom and grandma, who each learned it from the locals in Sierra Leone. It’s also made a little healthier by using olive oil instead of palm oil and adding sweet potatoes, which many don’t use.

What is peanut soup?

Peanut soup is an African recipe that’s very popular in West Africa, and especially in Ghana. I grew up in Sierra Leone, so the version we used to eat may slightly vary from other regional versions. But essentially, the recipe is made up of ground peanuts (or peanut butter) with tomato paste and spices.

The authentic name for peanut soup is granat soup. Granat is the krio term for groundnut – aka peanuts. While it’s common practice to grind the nuts for making the recipe, any peanut butter you buy works well here. Just make sure there’s not sugar added.

top down shot of peanut butter in a jar

What does peanut soup taste like?

If the idea of peanut butter and tomato paste turned into soup makes you question this recipe, I strongly urge you to get past that apprehension! There’s a cup of peanut butter in the recipe, so it will taste like spicy watery peanut butter. Served over warm rice, it’s a creamy, spicy and comforting combination. It reminds me of Thai peanut sauce and has all the feels of a curry.

How i changed authentic peanut soup

The traditional recipe uses red palm oil as a base for the fat and flavor of the peanut soup. Because palm oil can be pretty hard to find and it’s not something I cook with often, I use vegetable oil instead. The sweet potatoes is also an addition that is not always included but it’s something that my mom always added to make the dish more hearty.

Final peanut soup in a large bowl

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How to make peanut butter soup

  • Cook the onions with fresh ginger (if you’d like) until they’re soft and aromatic.
  • Add the tomato paste on top of the onions. I use 3 ounces (which is half a can of tomato paste).
Collage showing recipe in progress - frying onions, then adding tomato paste
  • Next, mix everything well together until well combined.
  • Add the sweet potatoes, along with vegetable broth or water and cook for 20 minutes on low. You want the sweet potatoes to soften but not turn mushy. If you’re adding cayenne pepper or chile peppers, this is the time to do it so they can incorporate into the broth.

And, if you’re adding chicken to the dish, you can boil chicken in another pot and use that chicken broth for the dish. You can also use a bouillon cube along with hot water or poach the chicken in the sauce.

Collage showing recipe in progress - mixing onions with tomato paste, then adding sweet potatoes
  • Add the peanut butter and stir everything together until the peanut butter blends into the soup.
  • Add some greens to bulk it up and add nutritional value. Collard greens are very popular, but I love using baby spinach since it’s mild and softens quickly.
Collage showing recipe in progress - adding vegetable broth, then spinach
  • Add the shredded chicken at this point. If you’re keeping it vegan, feel free to add tofu or skip this part all together. It’s not mandatory to have chicken included in the dish. But it was very common for us to have it this way growing up.
  • Mix everything together until well incorporated and keep in mind that it will thicken as it sits.
Collage showing recipe in progress - adding shredded chicken, then mixing everything together

What to serve with granat soup

While it’s called a soup, we actually grew up eating this soup over rice. So it’s actually more like a curry than a soup. In Ghana, they eat it with fufu, which is dough made from boiled cassava. But we grew up eating it with white rice. I like to make either Jasmine rice or basmati rice and I’ll make about 2 – 2 ½ cups to go along with this recipe.

Large pot of white jasmine rice for serving

If you want, you can also serve this with brown rice or quinoa. And if you’re looking to keep it low carb, you can actually just enjoy this as a peanut butter soup on its own. I love adding some crushed roasted peanuts on top. It adds a crunchy and salty topping that pairs really well with the creamy hearty bowl of peanut soup.

Final dish of West African Peanut Soup served over white rice

Tips for making African peanut soup

  1. Use natural peanut butter made with only peanuts and salt. Whether you opt for chunky or creamy, that will really come down to your preference. Just make sure the peanut butter you use doesn’t contain oil, sugar or any other additives. We want to maximize the peanut flavor.
  2. Don’t use tomatoes in place of tomato paste. In a lot of recipes, this would totally be acceptable, but in this case, we want to create a thick base for the peanut soup. The fresh tomatoes or even canned tomatoes will instead create a lighter broth, which is not part of the authentic recipe.
  3. Be careful not to overcook the sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes add bulk, nutrition and a sweet taste to the recipe. So I love adding them, especially when making it vegan. But if you overcook them, they will become soft and change the consistency of the soup entirely. So make sure to chop them small and check on them after 20 minutes of simmering.
Bowl of white rice with peanut soup over the rice

This peanut butter soup is a nostalgic recipe for me and reminds me of my childhood. There are a few West African dishes that my parents still makes now in the U.S. and this is definitely one of our favorites. What I love about it is that it’s a simple combination of everyday pantry items so anyone can try it and make it without any hard-to-find ingredients. Yet the flavor is something very distinctive and delicious.

If you’re looking for a different weeknight meal to try out, give this African peanut stew a try. It’s savory, creamy and very flavorful!

For more dinner recipes:

If you’ve tried this West African Peanut Soup recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

West African Peanut Soup

This West African peanut soup recipe is made with simple ingredients like peanut butter and tomato paste, but has a unique delicious flavor!
5 from 208 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Calories 385
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger optional
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 1 sweet potato chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup baby spinach optional
  • 8 oz shredded chicken optional

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot. Add onions and ginger, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are very soft and translucent, but not browned.
  • Add tomato paste and mix with the onions until they are well coated. Add the sweet potatoes to the pot, season with salt and cayenne pepper, and mix with the onion and tomato paste mixture.
  • Pour the vegetable broth or water into the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are cooked. Stir in the peanut butter until it’s well blended with the mixture. Add spinach and/or chicken, if desired, and stir to combine.
  • Serve over white rice with crushed peanuts, if desired.

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. It will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.
Freezing Instructions: You can also freeze peanut soup in the freezer for up to 3 months by using a sealable container or freezer bag. To re-heat, thaw in the fridge overnight and then microwave when ready to eat.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • If you don’t have fresh ginger, substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger for ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Instead of sweet potatoes, you can use yams or white potatoes
  • You can substitute the spinach for any other hearty greens like kale, mustard greens or collard greens, or leave them out all together.
  • To make it vegan, just leave the chicken out. You can add tofu, more potatoes or leave as is without the chicken.
* Please note the nutrition label does not include the rice or the crushed peanuts on top.

Nutrition

Calories: 385kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 755mg, Potassium: 670mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 3915IU, Vitamin C: 8.2mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Bowl of white rice with peanut soup over the rice

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Comments

  1. I love peanut butter soup but haven’t found a recipe to try until now. Curious… what is the serving size for the nutritional label? Thank you!

  2. Easy to make, healthy, and a delicious combination of flavors. Loved the crunchy roasted peanuts on top. My husband & I actually ate two bowls each! Will definitely make again!

  3. We live in Vero Beach, Florida now. I worked at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown as Communications officer in 1989-90 (after having been in Guinea-Bissau for the previous two years) We had quite a number of Lebanese friends, Wansa’s, Yazebeks and more. I had my first tastes of Lebanese food in southern West Virginia as a teenager. Our neighbor across the street was Lebanese and had my first Kibbeh and Tabouleh there.
    My Finnish wife learned Lebanese cooking from the wife of our embassy security officer’s wife, who was Lebanese. I’ve eaten the West African Peanut soup but didn’t know how to make it. Thank you!

  4. Hi! Trying to use up some ground goat. Do you think that would work well in your recipe instead of chicken or beef?

      1. I gave it a shot last night. Pretty good. I can see how it might taste better with beef or chicken though.

  5. Oh Yumna, thank you so very much for your faithful emails. I read every recipe and the included links and get lots of ideas. You’re creative and intuitive and are appreciated.
    I made this Peanut Soup and tried as much as I could to follow your recipe. My friend used to ask her mom “what’s for dinner?” and mom answered “what we’ve got.” So my approach was similar; potatoes and acorn squash for sweet potato; peanut flour mixed with chicken broth for half the peanut butter, more spinach because the bag needed to be used. It’s a hit! If velvet were liquid it would taste like this. We’ve liked every dish we’ve ever tried from Sierra Leone, especially Yassa Chicken, even the simplified version. This soup is going to be part of our dinner rotation. Thanks again!

  6. Hi Yumna,
    I have a new favorite soup now. Thank you! With the exception of dicing the sweet potato, it was so easy too. I am bringing some to my parents tomorrow as I suspect they have no idea what awaits them. Thank you again for sharing.

      1. James I usually dice sweet potatoes but I was feeling a bit lazy after my daughters softball game and bought the fresh already diced sweet potatoes I found in the produce department of my local grocery store.

        1. This recipe was scrumptious. The whole gang enjoyed it.

          I skipped the spinach and cayenne, added ground ginger instead of fresh ginger and it still tasted super. *used vegetable broth instead of water.

          Thanks Youmna

  7. So, for a soup with a general origin in warm regions, this is an excellent, hearty soup very well suited for warming up those of us in colder climes. I will definitely be making it again come winter time (and before, of course).

  8. Tonight is the third time I’ve made this and it is always a hit! I use the baby spinach and chicken that is suggested. It is delicious and I wouldn’t alter a thing. What a delight!!

  9. This is delicious! I use kale because that’s what I generally have on hand and added it with the sweet potatoes since it can be a little tougher. I’ve served it with Jasmine rice and riced cauliflower. Both were great.

  10. Just made this, and it is delicious. Came together very fast, too. I’ve made peanut stews before but never with tomato paste; I like it much better this way than with mushy chunks of tomato throughout. My chili powder was a milder variety so I added 1/4 tsp cumin as well, which I think rounded out the flavors since it was missing the extra heat from cayenne. Definitely a keeper recipe!

  11. Wasn’t sure what to expect when making this but I was pleasantly surprised. What a unique great flavor with a kick. Everyone and I mean everyone just loved it. Going to make it again for sure. Another great recipe. Thanks!

  12. Thank you! You are amazingly creative, Yummy Yumna!
    I have a question about peanuts. If I use ground peanuts to cook in the soup instead of the peanut butter, can I use them raw or shall I roast them first? Shall I then put them in with the liquid so they can cook through?

    1. Aww thank you! I think it’s better to roast them and if you can grind them in a food processor before adding them to the liquid. That will give it the best flavor!

  13. This soup is AMAZING. It has a little kick and perfect for a cold day. So much flavor. One of my favorites and go-to’s now.

  14. Amazing!! My family had this with chicken served over rice and corn muffins on the side. All I can say is WOW😍! Definitely my new favorite:)

  15. Just made your African curry dish! It tastes delicious! Love your enthusiasm and excitement! It’s so infectious! I’m always excited to try your dishes! You make them look so easy to make.
    Hubby liked it too but next time I’ll make it with chicken thighs as it’ll come out more juicy (his feedback) hehe

  16. So fragrant and delicious!
    This is such an easy recipe but chock-full of goodness! My husband could not stop saying between spoonfuls “ Babe, this soup is so good!”. Definitely making this one again!

  17. I made this. It’s delicious! I think I’d recommend unsweetened peanut butter though. While it makes it really delicious, always nice to have more control over how much or how little sweet/salty something is.

    I also used water and not chicken broth.

  18. Just made this recipe for dinner tonight. My husband and I loved it!! He worked at a Thai restaurant for 5 years so he can attest to how tasty this recipe is since it is very similar to a peanut curry. Thank you so much for sharing this piece of you with this recipe!

  19. I love everything peanut butter! And this recipe made me love it even more! It’s soo delicious, healthy, and nutritious! Full of protein and good fats!
    I would up the cayenne pepper next time for more heat.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  20. This is soup is soooo tasty! It’s like eating the peanut sauce that you dip your dumplings in! Very beginner friendly if you like peanut butter. I added rice cakes instead of rice and it bright such a comforting chewiness to the dish. Thanks, yumna!!

  21. I love this soup! This is my first time eating and making peanut soup. I made sure to follow the directions, and it turned out delicious! We will be making this soup again.

  22. I’ve had this soup many times before, however it was made by coworkers from Ghana. I must admit that I strongly dislike (hate) peanut butter, so I couldn’t believe how much I use to enjoy this soup.

    I followed your recipe, but found that the peanut butter taste was way too strong. Even my granddaughter, who loves peanut butter, agreed with me. I would love to try it again. Can you suggest a brand of peanut butter to use? Also, I would not put an entire cup in the soup. In addition, I will use beef instead of chicken.

    1. I would suggest any peanut butter that doesn’t contain oil, sugar, or any other additives. Feel free to reduce the amount of peanut butter and substitute the chicken for beef to fit your preferences!

    2. You seriously don’t like peanut butter, made a peanut butter soup, and are mad because it tastes like peanut butter?

  23. I was so excited and tried this recipe! Unfortunately, I didn’t have natural peanut butter. The only one I have on hand contains cane sugar, and it made the soup too sweet.🥴 A little nauseating for me. So I just added spinach and am hoping the bitterness from the spinach will balance out the sweet taste. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you tried this right away! But yes, I agree about the peanut butter with sugar, it can really affect the taste. Try adding a teaspoon of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. It should help balance the sweetness. Or more spinach like you did!

      1. UPDATE: I added juice from a small lemon to a serving of this soup, and it turned out so delicious! The lemon juice neutralized the sweetness perfectly. Thanks again!

  24. Not gonna lie I was a bit skeptical about adding peanut butter to soup but MY GOD! So so good! This dish is very hearty and special, we had it with leftover vermicelli rice and I’m definitely gonna be making this again. Maybe next time add some mushrooms! Thank you so much for introducing me to this awesome recipe!!

  25. Very special dish. I upped the cayenne a couple pinches, upped the ginger a half tablespoon, and used an immersion blender for a few sicks just to thicken it a little, but it didn’t really need it. I also added the shredded chicken. Excellent. Thanks!

  26. My husband and I love this soup! It is our go to and always have backup servings in the freezer. I make my own broth to use. TY

  27. Dying to make this. Katie, how many cups roughly does this make if following the recipe exactly?

    I’m hoping that each serving gives me at least 1.5 cups to smother over some chopped veges. Also, has anyone tried this with ground turkey?

  28. Absolutely loved this soup! I had shredded roasted chicken on hand and used it as directed. My husband also loved this soup. I plan on making it again soon and sharing with friends so as to introduce them to this new-found delight!

  29. My soup is simmering as I write this. Am hoping mine turns out to be as delicious as the reviews. This is my first time to make this soup.

  30. This has been a Thanksgiving perennial, for using leftover turkey. I usually followed the recipe in Joy of Cooking, but I didn’t have carrots handy and I did have a sweet potato, so yours was a fortuitous find. I threw in half a can of chopped jalapenos (I had used the other half to make cornbread) and some spicy tomato sauce. Used real tomatoes, not paste. Also some half and half and sugar. Came out just right

  31. Hi Yumna!! I absolutely ADORE your page!! I am a college senior at Indiana University and your recipes are so college-kitchen friendly! Tonight I made your West African Chicken Peanut Soup//Granat Soup. It was so delicious! 🙂

  32. I love that you made sure to include the country where you learned about granat soup. This gives your readers some historical and geographical context. Also mentioning aspects of the soup being eaten in other West African countries and how it is eaten is great. Often times Africa is referred to “Africa or African xyz dish” as if she is a monolith and one country when she is a continent consisting of many countries/diverse cultures. However, calling this recipe “authentic” wouldn’t be accurate since it is not made with the original ingredients, technique that we (yes I am Sierra Leonean) traditionally use nor is it from your culture. A recipe also cannot be authentic because you learned a dish directly(or indirectly from your family) from another culture. Authentic is when the recipe is from the source. A better/accurate way to describe this recipe would be “My version of Sierra Leonean Peanut soup…” So I am curious to know what makes this recipe “authentic” to you? In food blog world it is important to be mindful of the words we use to describe dishes especially dishes that are outside our culture/race. Words are powerful especially in food writing about cultures. Mislabeling spreads misinformation and enables appropriation. I just want you to be mindful of this moving forward.

    1. Sure thing! If you read the first paragraph, it says I grew up in West Africa. We made this recipe monthly and learned it from the locals who’s ancestors developed the recipe. It doesn’t get more authentic that that so I’m confused about your question.

      1. I thought the same thing. We (Sierra leoneans) definitely don’t put sweet potatoes in our granat soup/stew. Authentic would mean, the meats we use, the ingredients we use, and how we prepare it. This should have definitely been titled, “My rendition of peanut butter soup”

        Nice try though. I’m sure it has a very interesting taste.

        1. That’s not fair to say “nice try though” and that this is a “rendition” of the authentic recipe. This is because I grew up there and that’s exactly how we made it growing up learning it from the locals, using sweet potatoes and cassava (which is not readily available in the U.S.). But the taste and texture is the same as I learned it from living in Sierra Leone for 11 years.

      2. Thank you for responding. Yes I read the entire post and recipe step by step. I’m not familiar with sweet potatoes being used in granat soup as a native from the culture. My tribes are are Mende and Krio. I learned from my Krio side how to make it through out my life. I haven’t seen sweet potatoes or that kind of sweet potato used in granat soup since I don’t believe it to be native to the country. So that’s why the verbiage of using “authentic” seems a bit questionable to me. Now I know every person makes it different depending on the tribe and region sometimes even the hand that makes it. Is there a specific tribe that makes it with sweet potato or is that your version?

      3. Thank you for responding. Yes I read the entire post and recipe step by step. I’m not familiar with sweet potatoes being used in granat soup as a native from the culture. My tribes are are Mende and Krio. I learned from my Krio side how to make it through out my life. I haven’t seen sweet potatoes or that kind of sweet potato used in granat soup. So that’s why the verbiage of using “authentic” seems a bit questionable to me. Now I know every person makes it different depending on the tribe and region sometimes even the hand that makes it.
        Update: I just re-read and I see the section that you mentioned this version. “Peanut soup is an authentic African recipe that’s very popular in West Africa, and especially in Ghana. I grew up in Sierra Leone, so the version we used to eat may slightly vary from other regional versions. But essentially, the recipe is made up of ground peanuts (or peanut butter) with tomato paste and spices.”

        Thank you for clarifying. As you can see I am very protective over Salone cuisine in the food world because I often see it being appropriated. I apologize of my words came off a bit aggressive. Its something that happens too often especially with this specific dish. So that’s why I wanted to address. Thank you again for properly naming the dish and stating the facts regarding its origin.

    2. Michaella, do you have your version of this dish somewhere online? I plan to make this version as I love all of the ingredients, but I am interested in other authentic versions too.

  33. I made this this evening- this is sooooo good! I was a little sceptical at the limited list of ingredients and the seemingly easiness of the method. But my goodness it packs a flavour punch.
    So glad I made the full amount of sauce so I have more for another day.

  34. I loooooove this to make for my vegan sister! I also go ahead and double the amount of sweet potatos and whatever green im using it to make it extra nutrient packed! It is less traditional, but I love it! So filling.

    1. Yay, so glad to hear! So sweet of you making it for your sister and I’m glad you loved it! Thank you!

  35. I tried your recipe & we loved it. Instead of spinach I used collard greens & 1 large red sweet pepper chopped in my food processor. Also just a tiny bit of sour cream with cilantro leaves on top for presentation. Also I used all organic everything. Great recipe, thank you!

  36. I just wanted to say that i loved your peanut butter soup!
    Im used to having it without the sweet potatoes and spinach, but the addition made it taste even better!

  37. Oh.my.GOODness this is yum. I’ve been wanting to travel to West Africa for a while and this recipe pretty much sealed the deal 🙂 😉

  38. I made this and it was so good! I didn’t omitted the chicken and didn’t have spinach. I will be making this one again. Thank you.

  39. This really is a delicious dish.
    I added some smoked duck breast instead of chicken to turn the soup into a special meal.
    Thanks for sharing ???

  40. Made this today for lunch and love the flavor so much I’m having more for dinner.
    Thank you for another simple and flavorful recipe!

  41. This was so so good! Never would have thought to put those flavors together. I love it so much, and will be making this again to keep me full and warm this winter. Thank you!!!

    1. Yay! I’m so happy to hear that! Yes, it definitely different, but the flavors go so well together and it’s so yummy in the winter!

  42. So simple but so tasty and flavorful. Just moved from Texas to Wisconsin so I’m going to be making this to keep me alive and warm during the winter haha! Thank you!

    1. Haha I totally know how you feel! I used to live in Arizona and I’m in Michigan now. I’m glad you liked the soup!!

  43. Just made it for the first time! I’ve never had anything like it before. I didn’t have sweet potatoes on hand so used russets instead. The flavours were very unique! However I found it a bit bland; and added a bit more salt + some sugar for sweetness! Definitely try it out!

    1. So glad you tried it Carol! And I love how you added the salt and sugar for added sweetness! Thanks for being adventurous and trying it!

  44. One of my favorite dishes! I love the new ‘tricks’ that Feelgoodfoodie suggests in this recipe. Really allows the peanut butter to turn into a tangy and delicious sauce. This is such a wholesome and hearty dish. Make sure you share with your friends, especially when you’re looking to discover a whole new cuisine.

  45. Love African food. Thanks for the recipe. Just made it. Simple, easy to prepare and super delicious, specially with added pepper.