Soup of the Week: Peanut with Fufu and That Time I was Wrong

Back in the early days when Rob and I first started dating, Tuesdays (I think? It may have been Wednesdays) became a regular date night as he had a radio show those evenings and my house was just two blocks away from the station and it just made sense for him to come over instead of trudging all the way home. So, he would go and do his show and I would prepare for us a later-night dinner to enjoy afterward. One such Tuesday (possibly Wednesday), I expressed how excited I was to be making ground nut soup for us.

“What’s a groundnut?”, he asked.

“No…a ground nut. Like, a nut that has been ground, duh.”, I condescended (I have no clue how he puts up with me).

“Oooooooooh…!”

It wasn’t until a good year and a bit later, when I was reading “Half of a Yellow Sun” that I learned that a groundnut is actually a thing and, upon discovering that it was a thing, I turned to him all po-faced and said “I have to apologize to you. I have been very wrong about something.”

“About what?”

“Groundnuts.”

“What?”

“Groundnuts. It turns out they’re a thing. An African thing. Peanuts, actually. Everyone in this book is always going on about groundnuts.”

“Haha! You were wrooooooooong! But that is good to know.”

But then, a few nights ago, when I was relaying that Miss A would be coming over for an evening of making groundnut soup and attempting to make fufu, he comes out with something like “groundnuts…which are peanuts…which I was right about?”

Ugh. Why do I bother with humility when he can’t even keep straight what I was humbling myself for?

He also didn’t believe that fufu was a thing…or that the yucca I bought for the fufu was anything other than a big ol’ dong.

But fufu is a thing. A delicious thing. I had never tried making it before…and I still haven’t, really.

I made the daughter do all of the hard work:

We followed this tutorial for the fufu and Aurynn had been at the pounding of the yucca for a good hour when I took the video. We never did achieve that stretchy-soft consistency that fufu should have, but it was delicious and had enough body to hold up well in the soup.

I suspect overcooking (my job in the process) was where we went wrong and I will definitely be trying it again, especially now that I know that one of my favourite purveyors of international foods carries most of the ingredients for egusi soup, which is another thing I have never made before.

The peanut/groundnut soup, however, is something I have been making for years and that recipe I am happy to share with you. My version is vegan and gluten-free, goes together in about half an hour and makes about 10 goodly-sized bowls that are filling enough to call a meal.

What you need:

  • 3 tbsp palm oil (if you can’t find ethically sourced palm oil, use whatever cooking oil you have on hand – it will change the flavour, but the orangutans will thank you…perhaps not personally, but by going on living and junk)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large cooking onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 4 cups of kale, spinach or cabbage, roughly chopped

What you do:

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, garlic and spices.
  2. Cook this mixture, stirring continuously, until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the peanuts and continue cooking and stirring until the peanuts just begin to brown.
  4. Add the stock, water and raisins and increase the heat to medium high.
  5. Allow this mixture to simmer for a good 20 minutes until the peanuts soften.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes, leafy greens and peanut butter and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  7. Place a ball of fufu in the middle of each bowl and ladle the piping hot soup around it.
  8. Serve immediately.

Side note about cooking with sprogs: Do this thing. Start putting them to work on meals when they’re young and use that time to catch up and talk about all of the things. Make conversation. Once your kids become adults and move out and stuff, they’re harder to pin down, as they should be what with jobs and social/romantic lives and all of that stuff we hope for them, and there’s no point in missing a single second of catching up by having them sit in another room while you work away in the kitchen. Put them to work and continue the conversation. There are few better ways to learn about who our children are as adults out there in the world, independent from us, than by cooking with them. Last night, while I was chopping onions, Aurynn said “hey, I learned a cool new way to chop onions. Can I show you?” OF COURSE YOU CAN SHOW ME HOW TO COOLLY CHOP ONIONS, ADORABLE, LEARNÈD FRUIT OF MY LOINS. And she did. And it was cool. 10/10 do recommend cooking with sprogs, adult or not.

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