This traditional spicy chicken soup from The Gambia, a small country in West Africa, is known as a cure-all and, amongst other things, is said to cure the common cold. The Gambians like their food spicy so be warned, pepe soup packs quite a punch!

I’ve visited The Gambia many times and have enjoyed learning their traditional recipes. It’s a wonderful place to explore so if you want to know more about my adventures there, from attending a traditional Futumpaf to a cooking lesson with Ida check out my travel articles from The Gambia.

Sangyang Beach, The Gambia


Pepe Soup

A spicy chicken soup made with kani chillies, which are not generally available in the UK, although they are similar to scotch bonnet chillies. Alternatively, 'Aggy's Hot Chilli and Spicy Sauce' can be used to give a more accurate flavour. This and Maggi cubes, which are frequently used in West African cooking, can both be bought online if you can't find them in your local shops.
Course Soup
Cuisine African
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 4 people
Author Daryanani and Shah, The Gambian Cookbook


  • 250 grams tomato concentrate paste
  • 500 grams chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 tbsp black pepper, finely ground*
  • 2 tbsp kani chilli, finely ground*
  • 2 whole kani chillies
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 large Maggi cubes
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Mix the black pepper, chopped kani, garlic, and Maggi in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a deep pan.
  • Stir fry the chicken until cooked, then add the paste from the blender and the water.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer until the stock has halved.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir until it has been incorporated into the stock.
  • Add two whole chillies.
  • Simmer for 10 further minutes.
  • Remove the whole chillies (which should be soft but not falling apart).
  • Serve steaming hot, with some crusty bread on the side.


*Far less pepper and chilli were used in the version we tried and while it was hot it was comfortable to eat. How much you add really is a matter of taste but Gambians like it hot.
This recipe has been reproduced with permission from "The Gambian Cookbook" (Dec 2011, ISBN 9781-908797-001 - Daryanani and Shah).


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Pepe soup recipe - a spicy chickin soup from West Africa


Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link so if you purchase The Gambian Cookbook through it, I’ll make a few pennies towards another book to review and it won’t cost you a penny more. 


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