Mary’s African Peanut Soup

By Ann Fulton

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An easy, one pot meal that’s loaded with filling protein, wholesome veggies, and satisfying flavor. Leftovers improve with age and freeze well!


Community cookbooks are often much more than a simple collection of recipes. Humble, homey, and frequently spiral-bound, these books use food to tell the story of a people and a place. They’re a slice of history and a virtual seat at another family’s kitchen table.

Two of my personal favorites are a Mennonite publication from the 1950s and an anniversary compilation from my children’s preschool. I occasionally reference vintage recipes and techniques in the former and my younger son still whips up Cornflake Nachos from the latter.

I’ll likely never get around to most of the entries, but the Wigglers, Pond Lilies, and Gooey have caught my eye. (Yes, they are actual recipes!) I could sit down with either of those books and read them like a good novel.

With true appreciation for these recipe-filled labors of love that are community cookbooks, I agreed to help with a new one being created by Lighten Up Lancaster Coalition. (LULC is a volunteer group that, in partnership with Lancaster General Health, works to create a community that supports healthy eating and physical activity for all.

Many different cultures are represented in our community, and our hope is to collect recipes that celebrate this diversity. And because this is a community cookbook, we need your help!

If you have a much-loved recipe with an ethnic twist, we’d love to see it. Given the shared desire to eat more wholesome foods, recipes that highlight fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, lentils, seafood, lean meats, herbs, and spices are especially encouraged. Main dishes, appetizers, sides, snacks, drinks, and desserts are all welcome.

The recipe may certainly be authentic, but it can also simply be inspired by a favorite dish from Africa, Asia, Central America, or anywhere in between. Because there’s room in every good cookbook for helpful hints, substitutions, personal stories, and food-related traditions, those are welcome, too.

To get things started, I’m sharing my first submission here. Years ago, a reader whose son adored my chipwich cake (which, coincidently, I just made last weekend for Christian’s 16th birthday…I know, he will soon be DRIVING!😳) kindly returned the recipe love by sharing her family’s favorite meal—a flavorful, stew-like peanut soup.

Based on a staple of African cuisine, the recipe incorporates ground chicken or turkey in place of more traditional chicken legs for a lean yet filling all-in-one meal. Adding peanut butter to soup may seem unconventional, but it mimics the ground peanuts often used in a more authentic version while supplying protein, flavor, and thickness.

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If you have a much-loved recipe that reflects your unique family history, we’d love to see it. To submit a recipe, email to or mail it to Lighten Up Lancaster Cookbook, 2100 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster, PA 17601.

Mary's African Peanut Soup
Yield: approximately 2-1/2 quarts
This one pot meal is loaded with filling protein, wholesome veggies, and satisfying flavor. Leftovers improve with age, making a delightful lunch or easy dinner later in the week!
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce can) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 potatoes, diced (about 1 pound total; white, sweet or a mix; no need to peel)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk (light or regular)*
  • For serving: 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or to taste); cooked rice (optional)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and sauté the onions until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and sauté until aromatic, about 30-60 seconds more. Add the ground chicken or turkey and brown, breaking it up as you go. When the meat is nearly cooked, stir in the curry powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook another minute or so until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, broth, peanut butter, and coconut milk, stirring to combine. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

Simmer for 40 minutes, give or take a few, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro, and serve as is or with a scoop of optional rice.



*If the coconut milk has separated, stir well before using. If desired, leftover coconut milk can be diluted (4 parts water to 1 part coconut milk) and used in place of your favorite almond or other type of milk.

As an option: The recipe’s namesake likes to prepare the soup as directed through the sauté step and then transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low until the potatoes are tender, about 6-7 hours. In this case, the lime juice and cilantro should still be added at the end. Also, if your slow cooker has a sauté option, you could cook from start to finish in the slow cooker.

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Soup and Salt…Nutritional Notes from the Dietician:

Janelle Glick, a Wellness Dietician with Lancaster General Health and the nutritional overseer of this cookbook, mentioned that soup, especially canned soup, is known to be exceptionally high in salt. However, when you make your own soup at home, you have control over what goes into it.

If salt is a concern for you, keep in mind that store-bought broth often has a lot of added salt, so choose “low sodium” or “reduced sodium” (low sodium has the lesser amount of the two). Janelle approved the one teaspoon of salt called for in this recipe in conjunction with the use of low-sodium broth, but you may add salt to your taste preference.

Sodium-free chicken bouillon packets provide another option for those looking to keep salt intake to a minimum. Finally, Janelle added that the fiber, protein, and fat in this recipe make it a balanced meal that will keep you feeling full for a while.




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  1. Jen Meyer

    Hi, Ann,
    I made this soup today with the substitutions you suggested… chickpeas instead of ground chicken, and low-sodium vegetable broth instead of low-sodium chicken broth… in order to make it vegetarian, and it was absolutely DELICIOUS. My husband said it was his favorite vegetarian recipe I’ve made so far (we’ve been making the switch to a more plant-based diet over the past six weeks or so), and I will definitely make it again. Thanks for your prompt reply to my email and for your helpful suggestions. 🙂

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jen! I’m thrilled the suggestions worked so well and appreciate your wonderful feedback. It’s especially nice when the people you cook for offer genuine compliments as well. Makes you feel happy you went to the effort!

  2. Marci Longenecker

    Hi Ann…. this recipe sounds delish!
    I assume you are using red curry? We are not big fans of red but we love the taste of green curry. Could I make this change without messing up the soup? I would hate to have it taste terrible after all my efforts to make it.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Marci, I actually use curry powder in this recipe but think red or green curry paste would taste fabulous. I think I will try it the next time! If you do try, I’d love to know how you make out.

  3. Joan Post author

    Hi Ann – I wasn’t sure I would like it, but I knew my daughter would – she loves anything with peanut butter.
    It is in my crock pot now and not done yet, but it is great. It rates a 10. Guess I will make it for the next luncheon for my singing group!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Joan, I love that you were so adventurous and gave this soup—with its somewhat unusual ingredients!—a try. I’m delighted you like it. Thanks so much for taking a moment to let me know.