Palm Nut Soup (Abɛnkwan)

Palm Nuts are the red fleshy nuts that grow on royal palm trees. They are harvested in a large bunch and come in small and large sizes. Palm Nut Oil is widely used in West Africa as the local oil of choice when cooking. Although many people are switching to vegetable and sunflower oils. Palm nut oil is rich in vitamin A and is extremely bad for you. Palm nut oil has a rich, heavy taste.

Palm nut soup is somewhat of a delicacy in my parts. It isn’t made as often, why I don’t know. South of Wenchi palm nuts are much more readily available and the oil is consumed more.

Palm nut soup is hands down my favorite soup in Ghana. It is rich in flavor, heavy, and slippery. It is beyond hearty and extremely enjoyable, but definitely an acquired taste. Within minutes of consuming palm nut soup, your stomach will begin to gurgle and you may find yourself running to the bathroom. All that oil is having a nice effective on your intestines. Despite the setbacks, palm nut soup with chicken and fufu remains my favorite meal.

And here’s how it is made:

First things first, you need to add charcoal to your coal pot and get the fire going.


The palm nuts have been boiled along with these green berries which are similar to garden eggs and red peppers. They were boiled for 25 minutes, just long enough to get them soft.


The palm nuts are then placed into a special mortar made for palm nuts, agushi, and other smaller items.


Using a small pounder, you pound the palm nuts into submission.


While one person pounds the palm nuts, the other is preparing the soup. Chicken, water, maggi cube, tin tomatoes, salt, and red onions form the simple base to the soup.



After the palm nuts are pounded into their fleshy, stringy selves they are added to boiling water.


The fleshy part is then squeezed so that the juicy goodness comes out.


A little bit of straining and the palm nut juice is added to the soup




The soup then boils for about an hour until the palm nut oil comes up to the top. You can strain the oil off the top or keep it. We prefer to keep it. You know just to keep everything moving. The deep red is the palm nut oil.


Add the soup to fufu (which was also being made concurrently).


The final product:


You have to eat it with your hands, especially so you can look like an axe murder.



Delicious palm nut soup! Fairly easy to make, but time and labor intensive. We started at 3 and I finished eating at 6.

In case you are wondering, you can’t make this in America. I’ve been told palm nut oil isn’t allowed to be imported. So I assume palm nuts aren’t either. So if you want a true taste of Africa, you gotta fly over here.


2 thoughts on “Palm Nut Soup (Abɛnkwan)

  1. Palm nut cream is sold ready-made, so you CAN make it in America. You can find it at African markets near you.
    Source: I am an African in America 😉

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