Jan’s friend needed a soft soup after her oral surgery and Jan’s family is descending upon us. Blended soups are the order of the day. In addition to Ezo Gelin and Avgolemono, I will be making Maafe. Maafe, at its simplest, is a sauce made with peanuts and tomatoes with onions and sweet potatoes being a frequent additions. After that, the variations for this soup/stew are near endless. Traditionally, this dish is probably served “chunky,” but I will blend it into a smooth creamy soup for people with problems chewing.
What you add to this soup beyond the basics seems to be limited only by your imagination. You do not like/have beef? Use chicken, lamb or fish. If you want it vegetarian, leave out the meat entirely. It may be my mother’s Southern roots showing, but I thought bacon would be a good protein to add to sweet potatoes..
Note: Jan does not like bacon, so I only added four strips. You may wish to add more.
Karl’s Maafe II (West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup)
4-12 strips of bacon (leave out and use vegetable oil for Vegan)
1 cup onion, diced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 carrot, peeled and grated (about ½ cup)
1 jalapeño, diced, separate uses
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger root, grated
1 tsp. coriander, ground
1 tsp. allspice, ground
1 tsp. black pepper, ground
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (about 1 cup)
1½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
29 oz. low sodium chicken or vegetable broth or water
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
½ cup flat-leafed parsley, chopped, separate uses
¼ cup chopped, unsalted dry-roasted peanuts (optional)
1. Fry the bacon until crisp in a large soup pot. Remove the bacon to a plate and pour off all but two tablespoons of the bacon grease.
Tip: If using only four strips of bacon there will be just enough grease.
Note: I blended the bacon finely for my diners with mouth problems, but you may want to just break the bacon up into pieces.
2. Sauté the onions and salt, over medium high heat, until the onions are starting to pick up some color.
3. Add the grated carrots and continue sautéing for another five minutes, until they are well softened.
4. Add the garlic, half of the jalapeño, ginger and spices to the pot. Cook for one minute stirring, until fragrant.
5. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pot, until the tomatoes are well darkened.
Tip: Cooking the tomatoes until they have achieved a good Maillard reaction creates complex flavor compounds and enhances the umami flavor of the tomatoes.
6. Add the sweet potatoes and liquid to the pot and bring it to a boil.
Tip: You may wish to reserve one cup of the liquid to rinse the soup out of the blender jar.
7. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft.
8. Transfer the soup to a standing blender.
Tip: You may need to do this in batches.
9. Add the peanut butter, the rest of the jalapeño, most of the red bell pepper, and most of the parsley to the soup in the blender. Process until very smooth.
Tip: Reserve some of the bell pepper and parsley as garnish.
10. Return the soup to the pot and bring the pot to full heat, about 5 minutes over medium high heat.
11. Serve with a garnish of bell peppers, parsley and peanuts, if you wish.
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