Wednesday, December 12, 2007

West African Style Harvest Soup

I first had this beautiful and smashingly delicious soup at a fundraiser for Growing Hope, an organization based in Washtenaw County, Michigan that is dedicated to helping people improve their lives and communities through gardening.

It was prepared and served by Chef Peter di Lorenzi using as many local ingredients as possible, many of which were grown by gardeners in the Growing Hope community. It was so delicious that I just knew I would be preparing this at home so was grateful that he shared his recipe.

Please don't be put off by the lengthy list of ingredients. Most of these are easy to obtain and after the chopping, the soup, stew, or chowder (whatever you wish to call it) is very easy to put together with cooking time being rather short.

I addition, this recipe is very flexible. In fact, Peter reminds us that ingredients and amounts are ALWAYS variable in sensible hearty cooking. (You'll see where I made substitutions as needed below.)


1. 1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
2. 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced (I used 1 teaspoon powdered ginger)
3. 1 large onion, chopped
4. 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (I always use more, 5 this time)
5. 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I would cut that down to 1/2 teaspoon next time)
6. 1 teaspoon cumin powder
7. to taste - dried red pepper flakes (I used ~10, just enough for a little snap)
8. 1-1/2 cup chopped tomatoes - canned or fresh is ok (I doubled this amount)
9. 6-8 cups broth (chicken, veggie, or water)
10. 1 large sweet potato - peeled and chopped into ~1/2 pieces (I used 2)
11. 1-2 large butternut, acorn, or other squash - peel, seed, cut into chunks (I didn't have any on hand so I chopped most of a very large head of cauliflower this time)
12. 6-10 cups chopped raw dark greens, cut off or pick out the coarse stems (I used the full 10 cups and more would have been ok too. Frozen are ok to use here, too.)
13. 2 cups fresh corn cut off the cob (or use frozen)
14. 1-2 cups cooked dried beans (I used edamame, any other kind would be ok)
15. 1-2 cups peanut butter (yes, this is essential!! Crunchy is great, too!
16. as needed - tomato paste (I make my own and used ~4 ice cube size pieces)
17. to taste - salt and pepper (I did about 12 grinds from a pepper mill and added NO salt)

1. Heat oil in large soup pot
2. Sauté onion and garlic for a few minutes - be careful not to burn the garlic
3. Add ginger, thyme, cumin, black pepper, red pepper, and sauté a few minutes more
4. Put peanut butter into a small bowl, add a little broth to thin and then stir into pot
5. Add tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, cooked dried beans and enough broth to cover......bring to boil, stir, then simmer gently about 20-30 minutes until veggies are soft.
6. Add greens and corn and cook until all ingredients are done (do not overcook the greens - young tender greens will not need much cooking)
7. Add tomato paste, cook on low to reduce to desired thickness.
8. Correct seasoning if needed.
9. Serve with chopped cilantro, parsley, or green onions (I didn't bother but I would do this if I were serving this recipe for company or at a potluck dinner).

As I mentioned, I did not have any winter squash on hand, so instead I chopped about 3/4 of a huge head of cauliflower into small pieces and substituted that in the squash's place. It was delicious!!

The addition of peanut butter is common in many traditional dishes from West Africa, where peanuts are grow in abundance. It provides an excellent source of protein, along with the beans or edamame.

This recipe easily serves 8, so there is plenty to eat throughout the week or freeze for another time. This would be delicious served over some cooked brown rice or with some whole grain bread, making sure that you enjoy all the liquid of the soup. It's good enough to drink from your bowl. :-)

The tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, garlic, kale and veggie broth were all home-grown or home-made.

Thanks, Peter. I look forward to trying more of your delicious healthy fare.

Bon appetít!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Unknown said...

Yum! Sounds good, Mom. Now that it's a weekend, maybe I'll give something new a shot!

Keep up the good blogging, Mom. :0)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe! I love soup and am always looking for ones that are healthy and tasty. After my diagnosis of breast cancer 2+ years ago I decided to make some changes in my life. I wanted to find which foods I should be eating and why. I have your book and it has been a source of inspiration and comfort. Thank you continuing to share information and encouragement through this blog.