Saturday, February 2, 2013

West African Soup

Ah, Superbowl weekend.  Whole Foods was packed.  I wouldn't have thought Whole Foods would be the place people would go to buy Superbowl party fare.  I think of Doritos, pork rinds and other snacks that are seemingly the antithesis of the Whole Foods concept.  But over the intercom we heard that they were offering buckets of chicken wings featuring our favorite free range chicken, Mary's Air Chilled, available with three different flavored sauces.  Who would have thunk it.  It seems as though chicken wings now reign supreme as football viewing fare.  I saw an estimate on the news that Americans will consume 1.2 billion wings tomorrow.  That's 300 million chickens.  Yikes.

But we weren't at Whole Foods for Superbowl party food.  We had a short grocery list for the soup I made tonight.  I'm not sure when I first came across a recipe for West African soup, but it made an impression because of the use of ground peanuts to season the broth.  The two other ingredients that feature prominently are chickpeas (yum always) and sweet potatoes.  In the course of pursuing the latter we discovered the great US government yam scam.

When we went to buy the sweet potatoes, we saw that there was one variety of sweet potato and two of yams.  As the recipe called for sweet potato, we naturally chose some of that kind.  They were light skinned and looked like this:

I cut into one and it was a very pale yellow inside.  I immediately thought it did not look like a sweet potato, which I was used to being orange inside (think sweet potato fries).  Wayne wanted to try some as he happily eats any raw vegetable, and he said it was dry and starchy and not at all sweet.  So I got online and did some research.  It turns out that what they call a "yam" in the store is actually not a yam, but a different variety of sweet potato that has a darker color skin and the darker orange flesh.  The USDA - yes, the US government - decided to start calling the darker sweet potatoes yams to distinguish them from the lighter ones.  But they are not yams.  Yams are a tuber that is found in South America and the Caribbean and can grow to be seven feet long.  They don't import true yams here.  So the name "yam" is a misnomer, and this whole thing screwed up my soup prep!

Wayne was an absolute dear, and offered to go back to Whole Foods to get some of the sweet potatoes called yams for our soup.  Whole Foods was even more packed on his second visit of the day.  But he got some nice looking garnet "yams", brought them home, and we were back on track.

I found this recipe on My Recipes, and it was originally published in Cooking Light:
It's another fast and easy recipe.  The only parts at all labor-intensive are the chopping of the onion and sweet potato, and creating a homemade peanut butter from the roasted peanuts.  I chopped the sweet potato into slightly smaller pieces than the 1 inch cubes the recipe calls for, probably more like 1/2 or 3/4 inch. It took some time processing the peanuts in the food processor for them to finally get creamy.  This is thicker than the peanut butter you can buy prepared since jar peanut butter has alot of extra oil added to it to give it that spreadable consistency.  This was smooth but thick.

After sauteing the onion all the other ingredients were added to Le Creuset and brought to a simmer.

By the recommended 30 minutes the sweet potato had softened sufficiently and the broth had started to thicken.  We added some freshly chopped Italian parsley for garnish, and we had a meal.

We loved the flavor of the broth with the peanuts in it.  It went really well with the chickpeas and tomatoes.  The sweet potato wasn't too sweet, and with all the fiber and complex carbohydrates in the sweet potato it is quite filling and satisfying without needing to eat much.  The fresh parsley on top adds some nice contrasting brightness to the flavor.  I also chopped up some leftover peanuts, and we really liked having a little crunch in the soup when we sprinkled some on top.

I'm very interested to see what it will be like upon reheating.  Presumably the broth will thicken further and the flavors will enhance.  With such good results after just a short simmer it should be great.  Another tasty and healthy soup that is easy to prepare.  I feel on a roll!

No comments:

Post a Comment