Senegalese Chicken Soup

In 2012 I was working at a small bakery in New Jersey that had the most amazing soups for lunch. We didn't make them there, they came in big bags from another company, but they were all delicious. There is one that has always stuck out in my mind, even years later; I had never heard of Senegalese chicken soup before then, but I haven't stopped thinking about it since then. It's a peanutty creamy spicy chicken stew that just warms your soul, and if you've never tried it, you're missing out. Lucky for you, I finally got tired of dreaming about it and hunted down a recipe to make it myself.

It's been a really long time since I last tasted the bakery's version, but I'm pretty sure this recipe nails it. You know how sometimes you romanticize things in your head and when you finally get there you find yourself disappointed? Well, this is not one of those times. I made some small adjustments to the recipe I found, like seasoning and cooking the chicken myself, toning down the spice a bit, and using red curry paste instead of yellow because dammit, I couldn't find yellow curry paste anywhere. All good things, I promise. Coconut milk makes this creamy but keeps it dairy-free, and if you're not a fan of peanut butter (I'm not) don't fret- the flavor is subtle but rich. This soup is the bomb dot com! Just ask Shawn, he typically eats two bowls of it in one sitting. I made a note in there about the spice level, so know yourself and be mindful of that.

Senegalese Chicken Soup

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • drizzle of olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ cup curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • ½ teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste *
  • 1 cup natural smooth peanut butter
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Lay the chicken thighs flat across a baking sheet. Season with cayenne, curry powder, and salt. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top and rub the seasonings in until the thighs are fully coated.
Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165°, usually 20-25 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then shred the chicken into bite size pieces using a fork.
While chicken is cooking, in a large pot heat the coconut oil until melted. Saute the onion, garlic and cayenne in oil until the onion is translucent.
Stir in the curry powder and red curry paste and saute until the onions are fully coated.
Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the shredded chicken and sambal oelek and bring back to a simmer for 10 more minutes.
Slowly stir in the peanut butter until combined, then stir in the coconut milk until combined. Toss in the chopped cilantro and lemon juice, along with more salt if needed.
Serve the soup topped with a sprinkle of cilantro and chopped peanuts.

* This chili paste has quite a kick, so if you don't like things particularly spicy, cut back on the amount or omit it all together.
What's one dish you had once and can't stop thinking about?

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