Sopa de mani is a peanut soup that hails from Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is typically made with beef ribs or chicken, but it works well as a vegetarian soup, too. For this recipe, I took the liberty of substituting stewing beef chunks instead of using ribs.
One of the fun garnishes often included with this soup is fried matchstick potatoes or French fries. I leave up to you whether you are up to the task of frying potatoes. As you can see in the photo above, I made baked sweet potato fries instead of using regular potatoes.
Other traditional garnishes are fresh herbs, crusty bread and llajua, a traditional Bolivian salsa made with the locoto pepper. Just use your favorite hot sauce instead.
1½ lbs. beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 to 3 tsp. salt
8 cups of stock, or water
8 oz. skinless raw peanuts (about 1¾ cups), or use roasted if you cannot find raw peanuts
1 small onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
½ large green bell pepper, diced
½ large red bell pepper, diced
½ cup white rice
½ cup green beans, diced
1 large clove garlic
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ cup frozen peas
Pinch of dried oregano
Handful fresh cilantro, sliced
Handful fresh parsley, sliced
French fried potatoes, or frozen French fries, baked
Grab a soup pot and add the stewing beef, salt and stock. Simmer for one hour until the meat is almost tender. Keep the pot covered to avoid too much evaporation. Feel free to skim off any foam that rises at the beginning of the simmering.
Place the peanuts in a blender jar, add one cup of water, and process until they are as finely ground as you can get them.
Once the soup has simmered for one hour, pour the peanut paste into the soup pot, along with the onion, carrots, and bell peppers.
Continue cooking for an hour. (Note: if you are using raw peanuts, it is recommended to cook them for at least an hour or risk possible indigestion.) Pay attention to keep the flame low, so that the peanut particles don’t burn on the bottom of the pot and the pot does not boil over. Initially when I poured the peanut paste into the pot I walked away and noticed it just about to boil over.
At the two-hour mark, add the rice and the green beans.
Mash garlic, cumin, and black pepper together in a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board. Add to soup. You may need to add more water at this point as the rice will thicken the soup.
Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Add peas and sprinkle dried oregano over the top. Remove from heat. Don’t be concerned if the rice isn’t finished cooking yet, the residual heat will take care of that. Taste the soup and correct seasonings. Add additional water if the soup is too thick.
Serve the soup in shallow bowls, sprinkle fried potatoes in the center of each bowl and fresh herbs all over the top. Serve with chunks of baguette and the hot sauce on the side.
Notes and Instructions
Recipe adapted from: The Bolivian Cookbook, by Rommy Holman
Photo credit: Linda McElroy