Ethiopian Peanut Soup
Many believe that Ethiopia’s Jewish population, the Beta Israel, are the descendants of Solomon and Bathsheba. It has also been suggested that the ancestors of many in the community were from four of the lost tribes of Israel—Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. In the 1600s, Christians conquered the Ethiopian Jewish kingdom and many Jews were killed or sold as slaves. A fragment of the Jewish community that once numbered half a million survived for centuries in the hills of Ethiopia. In the 1980s, life became particularly difficult for Ethiopia’s Jews, who were also called Falasha or “alien ones.” Many fled the famine and rebel conflicts at home and were living in refugee camps in Sudan. Starting with the airlifts from Sudan of Operation Moses in 1984 followed shortly by Operation Joshua, Israeli forces evacuated about 8,000 Jews from war-torn Ethiopia. By 1990, about half of the Jewish Ethiopians lived in Israel. In 1991, Operation Solomon evacuated nearly all of the remaining 14,000 Jews and brought them to settle in Israel, ending a 2500 year Jewish presence in Ethiopia. Nearly 36,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel as full citizens, but their community has faced widespread social and economic challenges including discrimination. Perhaps more attitudes will change for the positive now that the first Ethiopian-born Israeli woman was crowned Miss Israel! Reprinted with permission from Entrée to Judaism for Families
- 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- 2 10½-ounce cans chicken broth concentrate or 2 quarts pre-made chicken broth
- 2 onions, peeled and cut into eighths
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup peanut butter, preferably smooth although chunky also works
- 1/3 cup long grain rice, preferably basmati
- 1½ teaspoons Berbere spice*
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts for garnish (optional)
- *To make your own Berbere spice blend, mix ½ teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Rinse the chicken breasts in cold water and then place in a 4-quart saucepan with the canned chicken broth. Add four cans of water (about 42 ounces), onions, sweet potato and carrots to the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, over moderately low heat for 30 minutes or until the chicken meat is cooked. Remove the chicken from the soup. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and set aside.
- Place about 1/3 of the soup, including the vegetables, in an electric blender and blend until very smooth. Place the blended soup in a clean 6 quart saucepan. Add half or all of the remaining soup into the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into the saucepan, leaving 1 to 2 cups in the blender. Add the peanut butter to soup remaining in the blender and process until smooth. Add to the saucepan and bring to a boil. (An immersion blender can be used to puree the soup and peanut butter right in the pot.) Add the rice, Berbere spice and salt. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes until rice is cooked through.
- Serve each bowl of soup topped with some shredded chicken meat and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts.