Lunch & Dinner, Recipes

Spicy African Sweet Potato Soup

At my house, we don’t do bland. Whether it’s style, art, wine, and especially food, we like FLAVOR. Too many so-called “skinny” recipes don’t include enough spice, in my opinion (and luckily Mister BS agrees).

Fall is on it’s way, which I couldn’t be more thrilled about, and that means it’s finally soup season! Not that I don’t like a good summer salad, but I love soups, especially because they make for leftovers I want to eat.

When I was got my haul from the weekend farmer’s market, I knew I wanted to make a soup out of those gorgeous sweet potatoes.

famer's market haul


But I didn’t want to make just any sweet potato recipe. I wanted something with unexpected flavors and a bit of a kick. When browsing my Pinterest boards for inspiration, I came across this recipe from Cookin’ Canuck, and thought I’d give it my own spin. Confession: I don’t ever use fresh tomatoes in soup. Salads, bruschetta, yes. But for me, there’s nothing wrong with canned. Canned tomatoes, especially if you’re buying the no added salt kind, are great. They contain more lycopene, the cancer-fighting antioxidant. A little bit of fat helps your body absorb it, and the peanut butter fits the bill.

spices and ingedients african peanut soup

Peanut butter in soup? Really? Yeah, I hear you. I was skeptical about it at first. But boy, was it awesome! I freaking love me some peanut butter, especially because at my coop they have the grind-it-yourself dispenser, and it’s just plain fun to make it.

As far as ginger goes, I’m a fan of those tubes you can buy. It’s way easier than grating it yourself, stays fresher longer, and I don’t feel like it compromises the flavor at all.

Another reason I’m excited for autumn and soup season is because I have a new toy: my Cuisinart submersion blender. Really, guys, I didn’t think I needed one. I have a blender and both a small and large food processor. But with a submersion blender, you can just stick it straight in the pot so there is no worry about cooling it before blending, and clean up is a breeze. I just snap off the blade part, wash, and it’s done. Before, I tended to stick to soups that left everything chunky or only required one ingredient, like the tomatoes, to be pureed. Not any longer! I will be blending up so many smooth soups this fall and winter!

One thing I cannot stress enough about this soup: you simply MUST have the cilantro for garnish. It is the perfect complement and balances out all the spices in the soup.

I didn’t stray far from the original recipe this first time around, but next time I think I’ll add quinoa, too.

spicy african sweet potato soup


Spicy African Sweet Potato Soup


1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 pinch ground cloves
1 16 oz can of no-salt added tomatoes
2  sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large carrot, peeled and chopped
5 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 can (14 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnishing


Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon stick, and a pinch of ground cloves. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the canned tomatoes, chopped sweet potatoes, and diced carrot to the onion and spice mixture and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in water and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes and carrots are tender. As Mister BS can attest, this is my favorite part about cooking: the waiting. This is the perfect amount of time for me to sneak in writing, watch an episode of Sons of Anarchy, or even to pick up the living room.

Remove the soup from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Using a hand immersion blender (really, best investment I’ve made in my kitchen for a long time), blend the soup until almost a puree. Return the soup to the pot and stir in a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts, and 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Whisk until the peanut butter is completely combined into the soup.

Stir chickpeas into the soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and a sprinkling of peanuts.

Not only was this a big win with Mister BS, my mom, who claims to not like sweet potatoes, thought this was great. It’s definitely going onto regular rotation among our favorite soups.

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  • I’m so glad you enjoyed the soup. Adding quinoa sounds like a great idea!