African Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

I found this recipe in a volume of “Clean Eating Magazine.”  I’d never heard of it before, but it caught my eye as I walked through the book area of Sam’s Club.  The concept of clean eating is similar to Paleo mainly in the goal of eliminating processed foods, however, legumes, grains, dairy, are all acceptable in clean eating.  I happily found a few recipes that with a few tweaks, would suit our diet and taste.  This soup is a definite winner.  I have made it four or five times since I first made it (about a month ago).   It is vegetarian, so can be a snack, a side, or a meatless meal.  The recipe called for Swiss chard, but they don’t carry that in the Commissary.  I have made it with kale and collard greens, and it has been delicious with both.  I’m confident that any dark, leafy greens would work well.

The recipe is not Paleo because of the peanut butter, but the addition is part of what makes this recipe African-inspired.  You could substitute almond butter, but I don’t think it would be quite as delicious.  Here is my opinion on peanut butter: if you buy it, make sure you get natural!  I grew up with JIF, Peter Pan and Jiffy, but they have sweeteners and additional oils in them!  So unnecessary!  You could go organic, but Smucker’s Natural is delicious (crunchy or smooth), and it only has 1% salt.  You could buy it without salt, but the trace amounts don’t add too much sodium, and make a big difference in flavor.

I normally do not like to mix cinnamon with savory food, but with the sweet potatoes and tomato, there is a marriage of savory and sweet.  It is not cloying, and I recommend buying Saigon cinnamon (if you don’t already have it around).  Saigon cinnamon has little more depth and spice.  I pretty much exclusively use it for any recipe that calls for cinnamon.  It has made regular cinnamon seem a little flat.  This recipe only calls for 1/4 tsp, so either way, the flavors won’t be significantly different, no matter which cinnamon you use (and there are many!).

I have used products like San Marzano canned, crushed tomatoes because that is what is available to me, and it nothing but tomatoes and a touch of sea salt.  I have also made it with the Cento brand, and there wasn’t a huge difference in taste.  I have made this soup in both Georgia and Texas though, and the taste WAS different.  The difference was the quality and freshness of produce.

I do the best I can with the Commissary, and the occasional trip to Earthfare (the only organic grocery store nearby).  I wish I could say that we only bought grass fed beef, free range chicken, and organic produce.  We do okay, but between keeping the food budget reasonable, and the convenience of one-stop grocery shopping, sometimes products aren’t ideal.  Sometimes the key is knowing how to work with what you’ve got.  Much of the produce at the H.E.B is Texas comes from Mexico, which is a lot closer to Texas than some of the places the commissary gets their produce.  The ginger was where I really saw a big difference.  Not to say that even organic ginger would always be perfect and fresh, but I now know how to dance around ginger that is a little “woody.”  A grater or microplaner makes chopping ginger obsolete.  Whether it is juicy and fresh, or if you discover that what you thought was fresh… is not.  By grating the ginger (or garlic), you save time and literally get the most pulp and juice possible.

A note about the potatoes and kale: the key is consistency.  Whatever size you choose to cut your potatoes, just try to keep the thickness and/or width similar.  Same with the greens.  Make sure to remove the tough stems (which would SIGNIFICANTLY lengthen the cooking process), and chop or rip them into shreds.  Consistency will lessen cooking time and give you a better product.


  • 1-2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1-2 yellow onion(s)
  • 1-3 tbs fresh ginger
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 box (4 cups) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 28 oz jar of chopped tomato (I’ve used San Marzano)
  • 1 tomato, diced (seeds removed)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled and thinly sliced) SAVE THE SKIN!
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp saigon cinnamon
  • 6-10 cups kale, chopped and stems removed


  • 1. In a large saucepan or dutch/french oven, heat coconut oil on med/med high (depending on stove)
  • 2. Add onion, ginger, garlic, and cook until softened (stirring frequently)
  • 3. Add vegetable broth, canned tomato, chopped fresh tomato, and spices
  • 4. Add peanut butter (a spoonful at a time), stir until well-incorporated
  • 5. Add 1/2 cup of water
  • 6. Add sweet potatoes, and bring back up to a simmer
  • 7. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • 8. Meanwhile, rinse kale (or other dark greens) thoroughly, pat dry, and remove tough stems
  • 9. Add chopped kale to pot, and another 1/2 cup of water (if needed), stir well
  • 10. Cover and cook until potatoes and kale are tender, stirring occasionally (about another 30 minutes)
  • 11. Preheat oven to broil
  • 12. Take shreds of the sweet potato skin and toss in melted coconut oil (a few seconds in the microwave on low heat will melt a tsp-tbs in no time)
  • 13. Sprinkle salt and pepper (or favorite spices)
  • 14. Place on parchment covered cookie sheet and cook for a few minutes (as always, let your eyes and nose be your guide)
  • 15. Serve soup with a few (or a bunch) of strips of sweet potato skin