I found this recipe online years ago when I was experimenting with chickpeas and with eating vegetarian more of the time.
I printed a copy of the recipe out and put it in the front sleeve of one of my cookbooks. I fell in love with it the first time I made it. It’s dead-easy and dead-tasty, but the clincher for me is that it has one of my favourite things of all time in it. This is one of the things I would take with me to a desert island if I could only take 5 things: peanut butter.
Not that it’s overpoweringly peanut-buttery because my husband, who isn’t in the peanut butter fan club, still eats it happily. For me it’s also important to use organic peanut butter—the kind with no added sugar and sustainable palm oil.
When I packed up my cookbooks and moved back to South Africa four years ago, then back to the UK two years ago, I forgot about this little recipe tucked in its book sleeve. A month before my second son was born, some of the things that we had left behind when we came back arrived in boxes from South Africa. When I unpacked my cookbooks, this recipe fell out.
Because it was winter and I needed fast, easy wholesome food at eight months pregnant, I whipped up a batch. I had forgotten just how good it was. That was November and I have made this soup again at least a dozen times. It nourishes me and warms me from the very centre. I hope it will do the same for you.
Peanuts were brought to America from Africa, where they are often ground to a paste to thicken and flavour soups and stews. For a spicier soup, use up to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, or pass a bottle of hot sauce at the table.
2 tsp. olive oil (I’ve found that I need to use a little more than this or the spices burn)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
¼ cup smooth natural peanut butter
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 oz. spinach, chopped (about 2 cups)
1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add garlic, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until garlic is lightly browned.
2. Blend peanut butter and ½ cup broth in food processor to make smooth paste. Blend remaining broth into mixture.
3. Add paprika, coriander and cayenne to onion mixture, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in peanut butter mixture, chickpeas and tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in spinach just before serving. * I tend to add the spinach a little earlier and let it wilt a bit more before serving.
4. Then I enjoy all this deliciousness with some fresh crusty (preferably homemade) bread (optional, of course!)
The original recipe is from Vegetarian Times (African Chickpea and Spinach Soup).
You can find a few other modified versions online. It’s one of those recipes you can make your own.
Author: Khara-Jade Warren
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Courtesy of the author