African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter, Black-Eyed Peas & Beans

Recipe for African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter
A scrumptious peanut soup recipe - gluten and dairy-free.

Happy New Year, Gentle Reader. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. And it's time for a black-eyed pea recipe. One of my favorites, with African flavors. Serving black-eyed peas and beans at the start of a freshly birthed year is serious good mojo in some circles. At least that's what they tell me. Why eating a plate of legumes on New Year's Day brings luck I've no idea, but someone somewhere decided these humble little nuggets of vegan protein were a good and fortunate culinary choice. So why not?

Rather than rummage through cookbooks searching for Southern Hoppin' John recipes or Italian white bean escarole stews I turned instead to the sun drenched flavors of West and North Africa and reprised a stew that is spicy and hearty and peanutty. If you cannot use peanut butter try sunflower seed butter. It is no less fabulous.

Karina's African Sweet Potato Soup Recipe with Peanut Butter, Black-eyed Peas and Beans

Originally posted February 2006.

My take on African flavors... Why I love this soup? I admit, it's the peanut butter. It nudges the broth into a rich, garlicky, peppery brew with a citrus-y finish (thanks to lime juice and cilantro). As for the curry spices, you can make this soul-satisfying soup as mild or as spicy as your taste buds prefer.


1 tablespoon light olive oil or peanut oil
1 tablespoon red or green Thai Kitchen curry paste- hot or mild, to taste (start with less if you prefer it mild)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium red onion, peeled, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1 jalapeño or other hot chile pepper, seeded, diced fine
1 14-oz. can black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained
1 14-oz. can white beans, rinsed, drained
1 14-oz. can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 quart light broth
1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter melted in a half cup of boiled hot water (for one cup total)
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Juice from 1 big juicy lime
2-3 teaspoons organic brown sugar or raw agave nectar, to taste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For garnish:

Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley


Heat the light olive oil in large soup pot. Add the curry paste and cinnamon; stir for a minute to infuse the oil with spice. Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, yellow pepper and jalapeño. Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

Add the black-eyed peas, white and black beans, broth, melted peanut butter, red pepper flakes and cilantro.

Bring the soup to a high simmer, cover, and lower the heat; keep the soup on simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Stir in the lime juice and brown sugar or agave. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, to taste. Warm through and taste for seasoning adjustments.

Serves 4 as a hearty meal. Terrific with my gluten-free Skillet Cornbread.

Recipe Source:

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Karina's Notes:

Don't like peanut butter? Try sunflower seed butter, cashew butter or almond butter.

This soups works beautifully cooked slow in a Crock Pot; follow the manufacturer's guidance for cooking vegetable soups.

xox Karina


Shauna said...

Oh, this looks fabulous. I'm going to have to put this on BlogHer!

And I just added you to my links list, my dear.

punky! said...

Wow, this looks phenomenal - such beautiful presentation. I'm printing this recipe off and maknig it ASAFP. :)

SusanV said...

I really love African sweet potato soup. I've never thought of using black beans or blackeyed peas in it, but I'll have to try it your way now.

Like the new look of your blog, but that photo of a brownie is just killing me. It looks SO good.

PS..Thanks for the link-back on the roasted veggies!

karina said...

Thanks, everyone!

This recipe is one of our favorites, and I change it up a little each time I make it. I think you could have serious fun with it. ;-)

Karen said...

I made this soup and it was absolutely delicious. Such a nice change from minestrone and such. It tasted even better the next day!

karina said...

Hi Karen! Glad you enjoyed it. It does taste even better the next day.

Patty said...

I am sitting here at work enjoying my first bowl of this soup! Fabulous. I am glad I decided to take a risk on the 1st try and double the recipe! More to enjoy! Since I doubled..I played around. I added 1/2 cumin and 1/2 curry..rather than one or the other. I didn't add any cilantro because I hate the stuff..sure it was be nice for those who like it. I probably made it more watery than it should be because I added too much broth, but still good.I would probably add some additional jalapeno or even habanero to kick it up some on the heat. I like very spicy! The peanut butter is subtle but could really play around with the recipe. This is definitely on my make over and over list!!

karina said...

Hi Patty~

Yes, it's a great recipe - and you can change it up easily, as the mood [or taste] suits you. Instead of cilantro you could try Thai basil. I love chiles, too, and wouldn't be afraid to add more. ;-) Glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

My husband made this soup for me as a specical surprise. It was delicious!!! I took some to work the next day and everyone wanted to try some! Thankyou

Michelle said...

If I were to cook this in a crockpot, would I need to alter the amount of liquid? I'm planning on cooking it 5-6 hours on low, based on your other crock pot recipes. I got my crock pot as a hand-me-down without manufacturer's instructions but following your instructions has seemed to work beautifully in the past - right now we're feasting on the bean and butternut chili which is divine! Thanks!

Karina said...

Hi Anon! What a sweetie! How fun. [Don't you just love it when co-workers ask for more of "our gluten~free"?]

Hi Michelle! I think I would do the recipe as is.

Come to think of it, I've never really changed my soup recipes when I do them in the Crock Pot... If it needs more liquid at the end, you can always add to it.


tina said...

Hi Karina!
I love the idea of this recipe but I have a peanut allergy. I was just wondering if there is sometime that I could use in place of the peanut butter or maybe leave it out? Not sure if the flavors will come together without it... Any suggestions?

Karina said...

Hi Tina! I do have a suggestion- sunflower seed butter aka Sun Butter. It's delicious! And it has a similar toasty nutty taste- perfect for this soup recipe.

If you cannot so sunflower seeds you could look for either soy butter or pea butter- they would work as well, though in my opinion, not as well as Sun Butter.

I've found it Whole Foods, Wild Oats and The Vitamin Cottage, with other nut butters.

Good luck and let me know if yo try it, Tina.



tina said...

Thanks so much for your suggestion. I made the recipe with the sunflower seed butter from Trader Joes and it turned out really good. My husband mentioned how much he liked it the next day and then also took leftovers to work! That rarely happens :-)
BTW, I KNOW it's the middle of summer (not really soup season) and some places are having a heatwave, but we are visiting NW Washington state for a month and just the other day it was 40 degrees brrrrr....
Thank you Karina !

Karina said...

Tina- Fantastic! I'm so glad. You know, sometimes I get a craving for soup in the middle of summer. Why not?



brian said...

hi karina,

this looks fantastic - i'm making it tonight... (i know it's not really 'soup season', but in san francisco, the fog can make basically any day feel like a soup day...)

anyway, i had a quick question, if you happen to read this and get a chance to respond - in the ingredients list i see curry paste, but then in the directions, a reference to curry powder or cumin... was just wondering what i should use.

thanks - and thanks for the great blog - i'm looking forward to going through and finding some more great recipes!



Karina Allrich said...

Hi Brian- Soup is good year 'round. Thanks for the heads up on the cumin. I changed it to curry paste. As I retest recipes, ingredients evolve and I sometimes miss an ingredient change. Thanks!

Enjoy the soup!


brian said...

well, so, i made this tonight, and i just have to say, it was phenomenal. a huge hit in my house.

thank you!!!

Ellen said...

I have a butternut squash I've been wanting to make soup with, but my parents want something different from my usual simple soup - do you think I could substitute some squash for the sweet potatoes? Crazy, I know...

Karina Allrich said...

Brian- Thanks- so glad the soup was a hit!

Ellen- Oh- it's not crazy at all. Butternut squash would be delicious in this soup. You may need slightly less liquid using squash. The flavors will be quite yummy.

Happy New Year 2009!


Karina Allrich said...

Comments above may reflect the fact that a previous version of this soup was posted in 2006.

Thanks, everyone- and here's to a bright, healthy, safe New Year!



The Veggie Queen said...

This sounds great. Do you know that if you use a pressure cooker you can make your own beans and the whole thing will really take less than 10 minutes at pressure?
I just won a recipe contest with sweet potatoes and peanut butter. Great combo.
I am going to add your blog to my links list.

milhan said...


Do you think I could get away with using tahini? Only 2 of us here will eat peanut butter :)

VeggieGirl said...

All of my favorite ingredients in one bowl!! Love it :-)

Happy 2009!!

GFE--gluten free easily said...

Karina, this soup looks fantastic. However, hubby won't eat any main meals with peanuts or peanut butter in them. (I remember major disappointment when a friend invited us for dinner and served satay. LOL) So I will have to adjust. I chuckled as soon as I saw the title and thought to myself ... Karina and her beloved sweet potatoes. LOL Hope you don't turn orange, dear. ;-) Seriously, this soup will be wonderful for us with a few modifications. Sweet potatoes are just full of good health and we both adore black-eyed peas. All the beans remind me of a vegetarian chili I make that completely stole me away from my traditional chili making.


Karina Allrich said...

Veggie Queen- Funny, I've never used a pressure cooker. Glad you like yours! Congrats on your win. :)

Milhan- If you like tahini, why not? It will it more bitter, so you may have to tweak the flavors, maybe add some sweetness so that the sharpness doesn't negate the sweet potatoes. Don't use nearly as much, though- maybe a couple of tablespoons.

Have you tried sunflower seed butter? Or hemp butter?

Veggie Girl- Happy New Year to you, too!

Shirley- True- I love my sweet potatoes- especially in the cold, short days of winter. Better carbs, too- lower glycemic.

For subbing the peanut butter, you can use any nut butter or seed butter you like- or- simple leave it out and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Peanuts add a lot of flavor; but if you like tomatoes you could sub with some diced or crushed tomatoes and add basil; or you could use coconut milk and make it Asian-creamy and serve with lime wedges. Maybe up the curry, to taste.


Kristin said...

I'm freezing to death (that's an overstatement, actually I think it's only 68 degrees in this house)... but this looks like exactly what I need to warm up. Yummy!

Sarah Schatz - Menu Planner for people with food allergies said...

This looks delicious and that is saying a lot because I am stuck in bed with the stomach flu and I can't eat anything and can only drink ginger Kombucha...

I will definately give this a try when I am feeling better.

Your photos are scrumptious!

Tiffany said...

This looks freaking awesome! mmmmm! I am way excited to try it! Thanks :)

Laurel Alanna McBrine said...

This looks healthy and delicious!

I am always on the lookout for a recipe ideas that are vegan.

I am trying to gradually cut dairy and gluten out of our diet since two family members have Asperger syndrome.

stina said...

i just made this [after work. so yes, i'm eating dinner at midnight haha]
and it is SO GOOD!!
although we ran out of black beans. so i replaced those with white kidney beans.

SO yummy, hearty, and even healthy FEELING!
thumbs up

GF/DF Adventurer - said...

Let me start by saying I have never before heard of African Sweet Potato soup but I sure am glad I tried this one! I made it for dinner Monday night (then had it again for lunch at work yesterday and today) and just can't rave about it enough.

I can't handle spicy foods so I subbed out the hot chile pepper for a mild one and skipped the hot red pepper flakes. It ended up being just a little sweet but incredibly full of flavor.

The only other modification I'll consider is the next time I make this, I think I'll try a little less broth and make it more of a stew than a soup.

I've still got two more containers in the freezer but I don't think they'll last very long!

Nina said...

Hi, this is my first visit here, and I must say, this soup looks absolutely delicious. I have a question though (forgive me my ingnorance): What kind of curry paste does this recipe call for? Would any of the Thai curry pastes be ok (red, green, yellow, massaman and pänang), or dou you mean something else?
Thanks! Nina.

Karina Allrich said...

Nina- Any curry paste you like will work. I usually keep Thai Kitchen red and green curry paste on hand.


Anonymous said...

I took out the water and added a can of coconut milk--phenomenal! Also added leeks and used two kinds of bell peppers. Used a small sweet potato and a small yam. I think it would be great served over jasmin rice. Great recipe!

Sara said...

Made this last night. It is unbelievable! Can't wait until lunch time leftovers. Thank you for the recipe!

Cynthia said...

Just made a double batch in the slow cooker. This soup is DELICIOUS, rich, warming and beautiful.

Jessica said...

Delicious! However, I'm a pureed soup kind of woman, so my immersion blender made an appearance. If I had to make one change the next time I concoct / devour this soup, I might leave out / reduce the amount of the bell-pepper. I felt as though I got more of its taste than was necessary.

Lara_B said...

Dear Karina,
Thank you so much for this website and the delicious recipe. I was feeling a little deprived and mopey since starting the GF vegan diet due to food sensitivities, but this soup left me feeling satisfied. Thank you for your website and the GF vegan recipes. I look forward to trying more!

Jessica said...

This was really good, I made it for a gf vegetarian friend of mine. I added a couple splashes of vinegar, 2 chopped celery sticks, ground cumin, white pepper, dash of cocoa powder, minced dehydrated onions, and some ancho-chili powder.I topped it off with greek yogurt, hot sauce, and tortilla chips. Great recipe, thanks for posting it!

Jenn Hollandsworth-Reed said...

Found this recipe when it was featured on Soup Chick's blog, and just got around to making it tonight, and I love it! Since I have a ton of dried beans from last year's CSA, I soaked 1 3/4 cups of pinto beans overnight and used those instead of the three cans, and used a frozen roasted sweet and hot peppers from the market instead of buying fresh, absolutely delish!

Christine said...

Yum! This sounds delicious and I will definitely be making this. I have always wanted to try a soup with peanut butter in it, and I still have some Thai Kitchen Curry from the Warm Cole Slaw that I have been making.


Anonymous said...

Silly question. When it says 1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter or Sunbutter melted in a half cup of boiled water. Am I just to put the peanut butter or sunbutter in a measuring cup and then set in the boiling water, so the boiling water & peanut butter don't mix? Or am I suppose to mix the peanut butter with the boiling water? I know it's a silly question but I'm really excited to try this recipe and want to make sure I make it the right way :)

Karina Allrich said...

Thanks, Everyone for the soup love. xox

As for melting the peanut butter- you melt the half cup of peanut butter by adding in a half cup of boiling water. Stir to melt. Use a large Pyrex measuring cup.

xox Karina

Christie said...

I have been making this soup for about 4 years now. I have to wait until it gets cold enough in New Orleans to really enjoy its comforting heat and flavor.
I found it online looking for a wonderful soup Whole Foods Market USED to prepare pre-Katrina called African Bean Soup, it had peanut butter and large flat beans similar to fava beans but no sweet potato to my knowlege.
Anyway I was slurping this dish up when i read your post, how's that for synchronicity!

Kstp said...

Mmm I just made this for my first dinner of 2012. Delicious!

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