Friday, January 11, 2008

Senegalese Peanut Soup with Chicken

The other day I was invited to a lovely ladies luncheon. A birthday celebration. It was great fun. The hostess, Robin, was gracious and full of laughter and humorous stories. She had prepared a delicious lunch for the 6 of us. I happened to have my little camera with me, so snapped photos of the soup. It was absolutely sensational. I can't wait to make my own batch.

I didn't know anything about Senegal (other than it's on the African continent) or its cuisine. Fortunately wikipedia had plenty of information:
  • Because Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is an important staple. Chicken, lamb, and beef are also used in Senegalese cooking, but not pork, due to the nation’s largely Muslim population. Peanuts, the primary crop, as well as couscous, white rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed beans and various vegetables, are also incorporated into many recipes. Meats and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices, and then poured over rice or couscous or simply eaten with bread.

  • Popular fresh juices are made from bissap, ginger, Buy (pronounce bouy) which is the fruit of the baobab tree also know as "monkey bread fruit", mango, or other fruit or wild trees. Desserts are very rich and sweet, combining native ingredients with the extravagance and style characteristic of the French impact on Senegal’s culinary methods. They are often served with fresh fruit and are traditionally followed by coffee or tea.
So, this soup dish utilizes a number of the staples of the Senegalese cuisine: sweet potatoes, peanuts, and chicken. Robin got the recipe from the food network site, and it's an Emeril recipe from 2006. Usually I'm not inclined to try his recipes - purely a silly reason - I think Emeril appears to be more hype and entertainment than he is a good chef. But I have nothing to back up my claim. Just that I dislike his talking and demonstration style. So, thanks, Robin, for sharing this soup with us!

Senegalese Peanut Soup with Chicken
Recipe: Emeril Lagasse, 2006
Servings: 6
3/4 pound sweet potatoes
5 tablespoons peanut oil
8 whole Roma tomatoes -- halved and seeded
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup onions -- julienned
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup coconut milk -- unsweetened
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast half without skin -- boneless, diced into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves -- chopped and blanched
2 tablespoons peanuts -- chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Coat the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and place in an oven-proof pie tin. Place the pie tin in the oven and roast the sweet potatoes for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the potatoes are fully roasted and fork tender. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the potatoes and discard them. Reserve the sweet potato flesh until ready to use.
3. Place the tomatoes in a small mixing bowl and coat with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet, skin side up, and season with salt and pepper. Place the sheet pan in the oven and roast the tomatoes until the skins are caramelized and wilted, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven, discard the skins, and set the tomatoes aside until ready to use.
4. Set a 1 gallon stockpot over a medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. Add the curry powder to the pot and toast for about 30 to 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the onions and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the cayenne pepper and chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
5. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and tomatoes to the soup. Add the peanut butter and coconut milk to the pot and stir to blend. Let simmer for 10 minutes, and blend with an immersion blender or in batches in a bar blender until smooth. Season with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and, if necessary, more pepper.
6. Season the chicken pieces with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the white pepper, and sear in a hot saute pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut oil for 5 minutes. Add the seared chicken to the pot. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
7. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with extra cilantro and the chopped peanuts.
Per Serving: 554 Calories; 36g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 53mg Cholesterol; 1318mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 6 Fat.
For a printer-friendly recipe, click title at top.

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