Pierre Thiam’s hot pépé soup is not for the faint of heart (or stomach).
Much like love, we tend to encounter each fresh hangover as if it were our first. The dull malaise, the stifling headache, the bleary fatigue—all accompanied by righteous proclamations that, no, we’ll never drink again, not ever. Until, well…it’s time for a Bloody Mary. Or just a tall glass of Pedialyte. Or maybe an $18 green juice that promises to function like a proverbial reset button.
That said, Pierre Thiam knows firsthand that the only way out of a hangover is through—and when it comes to weathering the brunt of your condition, there’s no finer balm than a bowl of hot pépé soup. The lauded Senegalese chef’s take on the West African dish, named for the region’s pidgin English word for “pepper,” is immortalized in his new cookbook, Simply West African. It’s a beautiful, masochistic jolt, perfect to aid you in rejoining the world of the living after a particularly debaucherous evening.
“Growing up in Dakar, this soup often came in handy after heavy party nights,” Thiam admits.
Rife with aromatics (garlic, onion, Thai basil, scallion, ginger, bay leaf—the list goes on) as well as a hearty mélange of fish (we’re talking shrimp, tilapia, and scallops) the clear, ultra-fragrant soup is like a potable IV—but vastly more fun to digest. “The spicy soup replenishes the body with carbohydrates to help reduce hangover nausea,” he explains. “Then the seafood adds needed protein, texture, and flavor, which makes the soup a formidable cure for a particularly challenging hangover.”
As far as preparation goes, the steps required make easy work for folks in, well, fragile condition. Once you’ve prepped your ingredients—standard chopping, for the most part—you’ll toss nearly everything into a pot at once with fish broth or water and bring it to a boil, before reducing the heat to add your seafood to the mix. Once cooked, you’ll use a wooden spoon to crush your habaneros, releasing that much-needed punch of spice into the brew.
“There are so many layers of flavors that hit the tongue with this dish,” Thiam explains. “The ginger and Scotch bonnet bring up the heat level and help to open up your taste buds, the garlic adds a mellow pungency to the soup, and the dried seafood brings a fermented umami flavor that adds to the brininess of the fresh seafood and to the herbaceousness of the basil and scallions.” Whether you’re looking for a savory, wholesome take on the classic “corpse reviver,” or just a warm dish with high-decibel flavor, this hot pépé soup is the answer to your prayers.