Mama Saga’s Lemony Groundnut Soup


If ever asked what my comfort food is I will tell you I have two – a bowl of mashed potato and groundnut soup.  Not together but that could work if you fancy it…Both are so creamy, warming and bring major comfort to me, especially during the winter months.

Granat soup (grounduts/peanuts) is popular dish made by many West African countries such as Ivory Coast, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, with each having their own take on the dish. My Mama always serves it to us with lashings of lemon juice – adding some during cooking and then serving up wedges of lemons to squeeze more juice when plated up – and that’s what I thought was the ‘ true’ Sierra Leonean way of making the dish.

I only came to realize in the last year, or so, that my Mama had added this little twist to the dish with my cousin commenting, ‘I like Aunty’s take on groundnut soup in adding lemon juice to it’.   Me responding, ‘Huh?! This is the way it’s done.’ I was quickly corrected by Mama who laughed at me saying how I knew that this is just her take on the dish and her love for lemons, with me then realizing I had never had any of my Aunt’s make it for me so I had no comparison.

My Mama’s groundnut soup is what I was brought up on, it works and we all know we never question our own mother’s food otherwise you’ll likely to never be cooked for again! Plus, I do love my Mama’s cooking and wouldn’t be sharing the recipe and attributing it to her if I didn’t (I also have to say this as Mama will be reading this but I do genuinely love her cooking. I’ll stop now).



p.s This is not a soup but a sauce. We use the term soup for some sauces and the word soup for broths, and gravy for stews – but let’s leave explaining all this here for now as this warrants a whole other post in itself.

Serves 4

The prep. part

4 Chicken thighs, with skin on, bone in

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp groundnut oil

2 tbsp tomato puree

450g smooth peanut butter

50g tinned chopped tomatoes

1ltr water, cold

3 – 4 lemons, juiced (an additional one to garnish)

Pinch of salt

3 handfuls of spinach or kale – that’s my little add-on to get some greens in!

280g white or brown rice

The assembling part

  • Put a deep and wide pan onto a medium heat.
  • Once pan is warm add groundnut oil to pan.
  • Allow oil to heat up, add and onions, stirring until lightly browned and softened and then add chicken thighs skin side down.
  • Turn the heat down so that the chicken can begin to cook through on one side and the skin can slowly brown and become only slightly crispy. Move the onions to sit on top of the chicken, so they don’t burn, and put a lid on the pan for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes turn chicken over as the skin should now be browned and slightly crispy and add all the other ingredients to the pan, bar the spinach or kale.
  • Stir in all the ingredients and put the lid back on the pan, still keeping it on a low heat and leaving it to simmer for 25 minutes. Check the pan halfway through and if needed, add more water if the sauce has become too thick. Don’t be scared to add quite a bit of water as it will thicken up again.
  • Cook rice, following packet instructions.
  • After 25 minutes, add the kale or spinach to the sauce and stir in, leaving to cook for 2 – 3 minutes if adding spinach and about 7 – 8 minutes if you are adding kale so that the leaves wither but the stalks still have a crunch.
  • Serve and enjoy,  not forgetting to add lemon wedges when you plate up!

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