Two dinner posts in a row! But I gotta do it.

Rachel’s African-Inspired Stew …is what I shall call it, for lack of a better idea

Here’s what I started with:
– garbanzo beans
– shallot
– sweet potato
– kale
– olive oil
– coriander
– cumin
– red pepper flakes
– vegetable broth
– golden raisins
– green apple

I was feeling pretty awesome for putting together this list of ingredients to make an interesting and flavorful soup! First I chopped the shallot small and sauteed it in a little bit of olive oil. Then I chopped the sweet potato into smallish pieces and added them to the pot with some broth and let them boil for a bit, since I’ve made soup with sweet potatoes in it before and undercooked it and been disappointed. Then I added the spices.

Then I called my mom and asked her when I should add the kale and ended up talking to her for ten minutes.

And then I figured…

Hey, some whole wheat pasta noodles would be good in this! So I cooked a handful of noodles in a separate pot. I think that’s key when I make soup – prepare the noodles separately and add when ready to eat! Not everyone does that, but I think it’s gross when the noodles absorb the broth and get mushy.

I chopped the kale and added it, and then added about half the can of garbanzo beans – unlike the noodles, even though the beans are already cooked, they’re harder than I like.

And THEN, I was like, HEY…

…some peanut flavor would be awesome in this! See, I’d looked up some generic “African stew” recipes to inspire me as far as spices, since the garbanzos + sweet potatoes just sort of seemed culinarily related (but what do I know). And then I realized another inspiration, my aunt’s stew (which made me add the apples and raisins), included crunchy peanuts on top, and getting that flavor in would be yummy. So I added a scant tablespoonful of peanut butter.

By this time most of my veggies were cooked and my pasta was done, so I chopped up my green apple and got ready to serve myself. I put some (raw, room-temp) apple, some golden raisins, and some pasta at the bottom of my bowl, served up some stew, and let me tell you, it was delicious!

Here are some notes, if you want to make a stew like this yourself:

– When I’m not cooking with a strict recipe, I don’t measure things or record cooking times. I add how much I think will taste good and be appropriately nutritious, and taste along the way and make adjustments. And I cook… well, until it’s done. As far as cooking temperatures, that was something I had to use instructions for until I felt practiced enough to wing it. Look up cooking temps/times on any soup recipe, play around, and you’ll be ready to do it without specific instructions really quick.

– That being said, I cooked the sweet potatoes too long! I loved the different textures of this dinner, but the sweets were a bit too mushy. (Remember what I said about the pasta though – it was juuuust right.)

The spice combination was delicious, rich and flavorful with mild heat, and the peanut flavor in the background was just what I was looking for.

– I wish I’d chopped things into smaller, more uniform pieces though. There were so many different flavors and textures going on in here that I didn’t get all of them in every bite, which was kind of a bummer, because I wanted to!

Anyway, in closing, thanks for sticking with me this long, ha. Clearly I’m not a chef, but I do like to play with delicious food. Soup is a fun thing to test out new ideas on, because you can get a lot in there. And even though this isn’t a recipe, per se, I hope it inspires someone!


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