Why It Works
- Using two different methods to cook the vegetables creates a more layered, nuanced flavor profile.
- Chicken legs cook up more tender and succulent than white-meat chicken.
Peanut butter and tomatoes lend a rich and creamy backdrop to this simple, hearty Ghanaian chicken stew. Up for something a bit bolder? Try this goat- and tripe-based version instead. Our recipe was inspired by Sara'o Maozac's story "East, West, Then Backward: Falling for Groundnut Soup in Ghana" and was adapted from Maame Serwa’s recipe instructions.
- 2 medium yellow onions (about 12 ounces; 340g), halved and ends trimmed, divided
- 2 cups (480ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed, divided
- 5 medium cloves garlic, divided
- 1 ounce (28g) fresh ginger (about a 1-inch knob), divided
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs (about 2 pounds; 900g)
- 1 hot chili pepper, such as bird's eye, habanero, or Scotch bonnet (see note)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (9 ounces; 255g)
- 1 (28-ounce; 794g) can plum tomatoes
- 1 whole smoke-dried fish, such as tilapia or snapper (see note)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Hot cooked white rice or fufu, to serve (see note)
In a blender, purée 2 onion halves, 1/2 cup (120ml) chicken stock, 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 ounce ginger, and tomato paste. In a Dutch oven, combine chicken legs with purée, remaining onion halves, remaining 1/2 ounce ginger, and remaining 2 cloves garlic, along with hot pepper and bay leaves. Toss to coat.
Set Dutch oven over medium heat and bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until halved onion is soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Add an extra 1/2 cup (120ml) chicken stock if mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pot.
Transfer chunks of onion, ginger, garlic cloves, and hot pepper to blender. Add peanut butter, canned tomatoes and their juices, and remaining 1 1/2 cups (360ml) chicken stock and purée until smooth. Pass blended mix through a fine-mesh strainer into the Dutch oven, stirring to incorporate.
Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender, oils have surfaced, and mixture has thickened and reduced by about one-third, about 40 minutes. Add smoked fish, reduce heat to low, cover pot, and cook an additional 5 minutes. (If omitting the smoked fish, you can skip this 5-minute covered-cooking step.) Remove and discard smoked fish and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot over white rice or fufu.
For a milder dish, cut the pepper in half and remove its seeds. Alternatively, use just half a pepper, or choose a less spicy pepper, such as a jalapeño. Hot-smoked fish is a traditional ingredient in groundnut soup and adds a savory, fishy, smoked undercurrent of flavor to the dish. It can be found in most West African and Caribbean markets, but can be omitted if you're unable to find it or prefer to leave it out. Fufu is a starchy dish made from pounded and boiled cassava root and green plantains.