Tuesday, January 22, 2013

African Bean Soup

Yesterday I made African Bean Soup and was tweeted a question about what to reply when someone says "Hitler was a vegetarian." What these two experiences have in common is that both are discussed in my book Living Among Meat Eaters.

New vegans--you become the target for meat eaters because you strike them as so earnest; and your earnestness makes you vulnerable. You want to answer their questions. Better, fix them a big bowl of African Bean Soup.

Meat eaters think they are so original when they come up with arguments like "Hitler was a vegetarian" or "what about plants."  When you've heard this for the one hundredth time, you wish they could find some new argument. You could point out that Hitler wasn't a vegetarian, but that takes you down the path that they know for sure he was. You could say, well so was Gandhi, but they don't care. You could say, well Hitler was against smoking, does that mean I should start smoking so I'm not like Hitler? But why step into their illogical justification for eating an unjustifiable diet?

They are so defensive and anxious. Really, help them just relax.

People are perfectly happy eating vegan food, as long as they don't know that's what they are doing. That's why this recipe is in my book, Living Among Meat Eaters. This is such a hearty, tasty soup, everyone loves it. I learned it from Jennifer Raymond author of The Peaceful Palate. When she sent this recipe to me, she wrote "Mmm!" next to it.  I added "Great!" She kindly allowed me to include it in Living Among Meat Eaters.

African Bean Soup

·      3 tablespoons soy sauce
·      1 onion, sliced
·      2 small sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
·      1 large carrot, thinly sliced
·      1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
·      1 red or green bell pepper, diced
·      1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
·      3-4 cups vegetable stock. 
·      1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
·      ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
·      1/3 cup peanut butter (I use ½ cup)
·      1-2 teaspoons curry powder
1.     Heat ½ cup water and the soy sauce in a large pot. Add onion and sweet potatoes. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
2.    Stir in carrot, celery and bell pepper. Check the water, if the pan is almost dry, add a little more water. Cover and continue cooking another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.     Add the tomatoes, stock, garbanzo beans, and cilantro.
4.    Blend the peanut butter with 1/3 cup of water than add it to the soup along with the curry power. Stir to mix. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook ten minutes.

My variation today: I added chopped kale when I added the cilantro. I did not have enough vegetable stock but figured the peanut butter and tomatoes and curry would provide lots of flavor. They did.


  1. Thanks for a great post. I loved your description of the dilemma on how to respond to meat eaters. And now I'll just invite them over for African Bean Soup. I have made the recipe and it is delicious. I shared the recipe with 2 meat eaters, the both tried it and they loved it.

  2. Thank you! Sometimes we think we have to change people with words, and sometimes that works, but I like the idea that we let our food speak for us, because the food is just so wonderful! Thanks for reading!

  3. Excuse me, would this be able to be made using a slow cooker? It looks delicious!

  4. Yes I am sure you could! the flavors would meld. but I wouldn't add the last ingredients when you start the slow cooker. Probably 4 hours on low is what I would do, then add the last ingredients and let cook another 20 minutes, maybe not that long. Carol

  5. This one looks so good. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I'd love to try it. I am not a vegetarian though this one is worth a try.
    African recipes

  6. it's look very nice... ─▒mmmmmm

  7. This recipe is a staple for me. I have to say it is the first recipe I have made that I actually want to make again. Therefore it is the first of hopefully a varied and yummy staples I'll eventually have :p. I haven't made it for a while, but as winter has been approaching, i've been craving it and today i'm making it. It'll be awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Dear Carol: I'm listening to an old podcast on feministcurrent.com.
    Your perceptions and understanding of the animal/human female connection has only become stronger and resistance to mysogeny and speaking for the voiceless has become more imperative now more than ever in a world of ever increasing animal consumption. Stay relentless, since this is all that any one of us can do. Blessings.

  9. The name of this soup is offensive - there is nothing like African bean soup. Africa is a continent with over 50 countries and thousands of diverse African group. It is a racist, lazy, Western construct to speak of Africa like this. I am disappointed considering your level of consciousness. Please rename the soup.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am sorry I did not see it till now. In my research on this recipe the referent "African" was to "bean" not to "soup." Based on the idea, mistaken apparently, that peanuts originated in Africa. I have seen this soup, more recently called, "North African Bean Soup," and "West African Bean Soup." What do you think about those titles? thank you for your comment.

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