Tomato & Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato, Kale & Chickpeas

Tomato Peanut & Sweet potato soup 2

On this day in 2011, I saved a recipe for African tomato and peanut soup with chickpeas, and it has been among the 400 or so others in my drafts folder ever since. This morning, I saved another recipe for African peanut soup with chickpeas. Cycles, anyone?

I think I may be becoming predictable – requiring thick, spicy soup in early January as a physical and psychological ballast against the chocolate high that was December. I like that this is hearty and creamy without being cream-of-mushroom-soup-y; peanut butter enriches it and the sweet potatoes, which have been cooked to the point of falling apart, easily melt with the push of a spoon, making a thick base for the chickpeas to hang about in.

Tomato Peanut & Sweet potato soup 3

It could be done on the stovetop, but I tend to overuse my slow cooker when it’s out, rather than clean it properly and put it away. I’m lazy like that – peeling and chopping multiple veggies is somehow easier than washing out a pot? It seems procrastination even applies to cooking.

It’s part of my mission to use up what I have, rather than source out recipes for things I want to try – which isn’t to say I don’t do that as well, because I like to and because it’s my job. But I think often in North America we have it backwards, looking up recipes and shopping for the ingredients it calls for, rather than looking in our fridge or pantry and figuring out what to do with what’s there. Or adapting a recipe – which, unless it’s baking, and sometimes even when it is, is really just a guideline – to use what would otherwise wind up in the compost bin.

Tomato Peanut & Sweet potato soup 1

I’ve had a few sad tomatoes languishing in the fruit bowl, and a baggie of sliced ends in the freezer (I know – sometimes it’s shocking that I didn’t live during the depression) that finally saw its final day of falling out of the freezer door each time I opened it. But this is soup – if you want it to have tomato in it, it could be canned diced or whole tomatoes, or tomato juice, or leftover tomato sauce from your spaghetti, or even a glug of salsa, which has the added bonus of already containing jalapenos, for added kick. Just use what you have – this is what I had. If you want it to be a more substantial meal, serve it over a shallow bowl of rice – in fact, it could be a delicious curry with a spoonful of curry paste or powder and less stock – or coconut milk instead.

Tomato Peanut & Sweet potato soup 2
Tomato Peanut & Sweet potato soup 2

Tomato & Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato & Chickpeas

Recipe link


January 7, 2013

  • Makes: Serves 8.


1 onion, chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped, or a can of diced or whole tomatoes, with their juice

2 medium or 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves for garnish)

1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

2 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

4 cups (1 L) chicken or vegetable stock or water

1 19 oz. (540 mL) can chickpeas, drained

1/4-1/2 cup (or a big soup spoonful) peanut butter

a handful of torn or chopped kale (optional)

chopped peanuts and/or fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)


1To go the slow cooker route, toss everything except the kale into the bowl of a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for about 6 hours. Uncover and stir, breaking up some of the chunks of sweet potato with the back of a spoon. If you like, stir in a handful of thinly sliced kale, chard or spinach, then put the lid back on for a minute or two, until it wilts. To make it on the stovetop, heat a slick of oil in a large pot and cook the onions for a few minutes, until soft. Add the jalapeño, garlic and ginger and cook for another couple minutes, then add the spices for a minute, and then everything else except the kale. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the veggies are very soft. Stir in the kale and cook until it wilts.

2Serve topped with yogurt or peanuts or cilantro, or all of the above.

Makes: Serves 8.

About Julie

20 comments on “Tomato & Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato, Kale & Chickpeas

  1. Kindra
    January 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    These are my favorite kind of posts you write. I love the way to talk about food, and how you describe the reasons for concocting things. When I first started following your blog, reading your posts (back when you posted what you ate for dinner every day) inspired me to cook with what I have on hand and use my own creativity. Since then I’ve grown leaps and bounds in my confidence as a home cook and don’t feel confined to recipes to produce a good meal. It’s also completely changed the way I meal plan, and I leave room for “clean out the fridge/pantry/freezer” days. Thank you for reminding and inspiring us all to be better consumers and cooks in our own kitchens.

    • JulieVR
      January 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Aw, thanks so much! Reading these comments seriously makes my days. Thank you!

  2. Sheila
    January 8, 2013 at 8:06 am

    This sounds delish …and this is definetly the time for yummy soups. I make a big pot every Monday and always looking to try a new one. I will use Wow Butter (if you haven’t tried it…its even better than Peanut Butter) as we have some nut allergies in the family. I would probably sprinkle with pumpkin seeds instead of peanuts.

  3. Dan @ Dan's Good Side
    January 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I immediately fall in love with any soup that has peanut butter. Now, if it would only get colder outside so I can spoon (both meanings) a bowl of this on a chilly night… 😉

  4. Nicole Boyhouse
    January 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    OMG. This looks amazing. I’m in love with soup, all throughout the winter.

  5. Fiona
    January 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Oo, I’ve been eyeballing African peanut stew lately – maybe this will go over better.

  6. Kalyn
    January 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Julie, I think this sounds amazing. Perfect for the very cold weather right now.

  7. Brigitte
    January 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Oh! Julie! Julie!
    I made this for dinner, in my slow cooker. Used my immersion blender to pureed it just a bit. It was so, so good.
    Can’t wait for tomorrow. It will be lunch.

    • JulieVR
      January 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

      That’s so awesome to hear! Glad it worked out!

  8. Meghan
    January 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I have been searching for a great African Peanut Soup recipe – this one looks great, can’t wait to try it!

  9. Cathy
    January 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve got this in the crock pot as we speak! Day 3 of the cleanse and this fits right in (well they say no peanut butter) but otherwise, works great!

    I spent 3 whole minutes this afternoon daydreaming about chicken wings. I kid you not. 12 more days to go….

  10. Shauna
    January 11, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Tis one is a keeper. I did not really change much (which is unheard of for me). Kale at store was ick looking so I bought baby spinach dumped the whole thing in the pot for the last ten minutes, turned it off and left the lid on.

    Kids enjoyed it to! I was thinking I might try it without the jalapeños next time and use Harissa instead, maybe tahini instead of the peanut butter to make it school friendly too.

  11. Jen
    January 16, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Yum! Must try , as I’ve recently gotten into Kale and wanting to eat healthier in general. Pinned it!
    Thanks for posting!!

  12. C Mahoney
    January 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I’ve got this in my slow cooker right now! I’m scared b/c I generally stay away from ‘different’ food combinations (picky girl here) but thought I’d give it a go! (fingers crossed) :)

  13. Shawna
    January 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    We tried this soup tonight and it was amazing! Very flavourful and hearty, and the dollop of yogurt is nice touch. My 11 month old loved the soup too!!! Healthy meals that we can all enjoy are my favourite. Thank you!

  14. Brande
    January 26, 2013 at 7:48 am

    This looks amazing,I can’t wait to try. I love peanuts in soups, but don’t often find a recipe containing damn near everything I like. Thanks!

  15. Lorrie
    January 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    This is one of the best soups I have ever had. Great on a winters night. I will be making again for company:)

  16. Julie
    March 11, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Loved this recipe! I am a big soup fan and this hit the spot.

    • Julie
      March 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for the reminder – I need to make another batch!

  17. Lisa
    March 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Made this Friday and it’s my fav new vegetarian soup. Followed your suggestion and added one can of lite Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk while reducing water to two cups. Also added 2 tsp of curry powder along with the other spices. Next time I would gauge the hottness of the jalapeno better and only use half of one if they are really potent. Might also reduce the chili powder a smidge when adding the curry. Great and filling when ladled over a bowl of cooked brown rice. Thanks so much.

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