Recipe: Spicy Chicken Peanut Soup (Groundnut Soup)

Serves 4

I can’t begin to explain why or how this recipe works, but it does. Of the four adults who sampled the soup, every single person had thirds. Thirds.


Groundnut soup is your passport to west Africa. In less than an hour, you’ll be spooning a delicate blend of fresh ginger, garlic, tomato and groundnuts (a.k.a. peanut butter), with bites of browned chicken and bits of hot peppers. And you’ll be mourning the time you lived without this soup.

Special thanks to Ghana and the rest of West Africa for sharing this gem of a recipe with the world. Variations include a perfectly smooth soup (the ingredients can either be pureed or simply mashed together), as well as prepared with fish or beef instead of chicken. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make an even more authentic version of Groundnut Soup by substituting fish stock instead of chicken stock and garnishing with crushed, dried shrimp.

The spice level of this soup is mild-medium. You can add more heat with ground cayenne pepper, if desired.


1 Tbsp red palm oil (or peanut oil)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 red fresnos, minced (or substitute your favorite hot pepper, as desired)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger (about an inch)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 quart chicken stock (or fish stock)
15 oz can chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup water


Crushed peanuts or dried shrimp, to taste


Get groovy with a bit of Ghanaian music. Laugh as kids lip sync to their favorite tune and dance their hearts out. Especially that kid starting around 2 minutes 20 seconds (he really breaks it down at 2 minutes 50 seconds). Oh my cuteness.

Next, brown the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in red palm oil. Season with salt and pepper. This can take up to fifteen minutes, so don’t fuss with it too much. Turn once.

Meanwhile, chop up the peppers, onions and garlic. Grate that ginger, too.

Look at the happiness that’s been going on while you’ve been chopping. Mmm, now that’s a lovely piece of browned chicken.

Stir in the peppers, onions, garlic, and ginger. Let the heat do it’s magic. Once everything is soft and slightly browned, add in the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for about thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the natural peanut butter with water until a smooth paste forms. Tradition dictates that you should use your fingers.

Add it to the simmering soup and simmer for up to fifteen minutes, until thickened slightly. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve hot with crushed peanuts or dried shrimp.

Afterwards, be sure to dance, and sing, and laugh, and love like a child.

All over the world they do it.

Perhaps children know best, after all.

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  1. This looks soooo good! I’m a big fan of soup.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      It’s remarkably easy to make and no special ingredients… unless you go for the dried shrimp (available at Asian and African markets). Let me know if you try it!

  2. That looks really good. Was that your first time using Palm oil? Would you use it on a regular basis?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I’ve used red palm oil for other African recipes on this site. It lends a distinctive taste to the food that you really cannot achieve any other way, so for those recipes I’ll use it for authenticity purposes. For my regular cooking I’ll continue to use olive oil – mainly for health reasons and because it’s my favorite flavor of oil.

  3. This looks amazing. I made sudanese shorba a while ago ( a peanut butter based soup) but it turned out too thick and was a little on the heavy side. This on the other hand looks like it is light, chock full of fresh and spicy flavors. Exactly what I was looking for. Will try it for sure.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Hi there – it is indeed a light soup – not thick and cloying like some can be. Hope you love it as much as we did :)

  4. Brian S. says:

    It looks wonderful. You should perhaps eat it with fufu or kenkey, using that starchy dough as a spoon.

  5. Karen D says:

    I read your “Adventures” all the time and really enjoy your great pictures and tutorials. I tried this soup and it’s delicious…so good that I want to invest in some red palm oil for that distinctive taste you mentioned. I can’t locate it where I live but I travel to Tulsa a couple of times a month. Since you live in Tulsa I’m hopeful you can tell me where to purchase it. Thanks!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Karen, I’m so excited you tried it and loved it. The red palm oil can be purchased at Whole Foods rather refined, at about $15. You can also find it at the African market “Ebute tropical market” just north west of 71 and Lewis (a tiny place, tucked into the corner of the plaza (the plaza is just south of the car wash).

  6. Celeste Childress says:

    Yesterdat, yielding to a suden urge to try your groundnut soup, I put together a pot of it. Even though I used olive oil instead of the red palm oil – and left out the fresno peppers – it turned out to be a keeper! Had I gone to the store, the urge would have passed and I would have danced off in pursuit of some other fancy. Next time, I’ll prepare in advance.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Wonderful, Celeste! Glad you’ll be making it again. I know we will be! The fresnos add the heat, which is lovely if you like spice.

  7. Browsing your blog for dinner ideas and found this delicioso soup. And I have the ingredients – bonus! We go gaga over spicy peanut anything. Thanks for sharing this bowlful of love …

  8. I just made this tonight. Because of a few ingredient availability issues, I used a red bell pepper and a couple of poblanos, and peanut oil instead of red palm. I’d almost be afraid to try it your way, now, as this is fantastic! Next time I’ll plan ahead, and stick to the recipe, but I think it’s the whole concept that works so well!
    Lovely, lovely soup.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I’m so glad your variations worked out :) That’s always fun… now lets hope you like the recipe as I wrote it ha ha. ;) Good luck!

  9. I was trying to find a way to like red palm oil and thanks to you I think this has been achieved. I made a vegan version of this soup with tempeh instead of chicken. I also used almond butter instead of peanut butter and added chipotle powder at the end. It is very delicious and I tweeted about it to my 7 followers! Thanks for the suggestion to listen to Ghanaian music as well. Your family is beautiful and this a wonderful blog. I plan to come back soon.


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