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Passport & Plate - Groundnut Soup with Grilled Cheese

Ghana | Friday, 6 March 2015 | 5 photos

For the soup:

2 TBls coconut oil
TBls salt
TBls pepper
TBls curry
TBls ginger powder
TBls cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 lg onion
4 lg tomatoes
5 garlic cloves
2 TBls chopped cilantro
2 TBls shaved ginger
1 shallot
1 cup fresh green beans
1 cup mushrooms
2 potatoes
2 carrot stalks
1 red pepper
1 sm ginger piece
1 12oz can peeled tomatoes
2 6 oz can tomato paste
6 1/2 oz creamy peanut butter
boiling water

For the grilled cheese:
1 loaf of bread
smoked gouda
pepper jack


How to prepare this recipe
Step 1:
Season meat with salt, pepper, curry, ginger and saute in pan with 2 TBls coconut oil.

Step 2:
Boil in a stock pot until softened
-4 tomatoes, 1 onion, 3 bay leaves, 4 garlic cloves

Step 3:
Chop veggies
-fresh ginger, 1 red pepper, 1 shallot, 1 cup of green beans, 1 cup of mushrooms, 2 potatoes, 2 carrot stalks, 2 TBls cilantro

Step 4:
Saute all veggies in left over juice from ribs

Step 5:
In a small frying pan, fold in 3/4 pints of boiling water into 6 1/2 oz of peanut butter until creamy. Simmer.

Step 6:
Drain water from boiling tomatoes, onion and garlic mixture (save water!) and blend in a blender.

Step 7:
Add peanut butter mixture to blended tomato mixture in a big stock pot.

Step 8:
Add veggies and meat to pot and simmer. Add saved water to desired consistency. Add cayenne to taste.

Step 9:
Grilled cheese!
Using your choice of bread, slightly oil and heat bread in frying pan.
Sprinkle cheese on and melt. Cover with other side of bread. Flip to toast both sides.

Step 10:
Garnish with yogurt or sour cream. Serve and enjoy.

This meal was prepared, cooked and consumed by my mom and I with love, respect and admiration for Elle, the woman who created it.


The story behind this recipe
The woman behind this recipe is one of the sweetest business owners I’ve ever met. It was last spring when I was living in Elmina, a small, fishing village on the coast of Ghana. I was there to start a cultural exchange program that I had put together out of a strong (albeit, slightly naïve) desire to create something bigger than myself. Completing the project took a lot of work and a lot of sweat on 100 degree days with 90% humidity. It was on those days that I had to treat myself to a special meal. On those days, I would call Elle. I was residing in a 10x10 room with no kitchen so I usually went out to eat. When I found Elle’s, it became my favorite spot. Here, you have to order your meal days in advance—not because business is booming (it’s not) but because she gets her ingredients fresh from the market for specific meals. She is a local woman but most of her patrons are expats and she typically only opens when they place an order, which made it an event for us. Her establishment is basically a low-lying, concrete structure that you wouldn’t even realize was a restaurant if you didn’t already know it. It's open to the elements as a large part of the roof had been destroyed by a recent storm and it is painted in Coca-Cola red with the company’s logo in large, white letters. What made it special to me, though, was Elle’s food and her warm, infectious smile. She has a knack for making authentic, local meals for homesick, Western taste buds and making sure you feel at home when you’re completely out of your element. She also has this subtle charm about her. I once went with a group who ordered a vegetarian meal for us and Elle had a plate of chicken brought out to me as she smiled over her shoulder from behind the counter. This groundnut soup recipe I have presented is my favorite of hers and she graciously agreed to share it with me. It has a nutty, mildly spicy flavor (think Thai peanut) and what American-grown kid doesn’t love dipping grilled cheese into soup?

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