Nigerian Egusi soup
Nigerian Egusi soup texture and taste varies depending on the region in Nigeria where the recipe originates from. In the south east the soup is commonly thick and creamy. The soup is prepared with a lumpy texture in South West Nigeria. You may find the Ijebus of the south west preparing the pasty version without the addition of vegetables. Where ever Nigerian Egusi soup is prepared be sure to have many hands washed , cutting away morsels of pounded carbohydrate and swallowing. Soups and swallows make eating in Nigeria seem simple. I find preparing Nigerian soups complex. The pounding, kneading, chopping,grating or grinding on stones are time consuming. But trust me the result of this hard work is always amazing.
The way Egusi seeds determines the outcome of the soup. As I was preparing today’s dish I had to remind my self that long cooking time helps to have a tasty dish. You sometimes have to cook gently to allow the ingredients permeate each other. Egusi has a characteristic taste and aroma so gentle cooking particularly of the raw grounded seeds gives good result.
I sometimes dry fry egusi before grinding into powder or grind it raw. However, in today dish I used raw grounded egusi. I cooked this in a North American city where the a small portion of egusi is quite pricey. To help thicken the soup I added some ground cashew nuts. Cashew nuts are cheaper outside of Nigeria. I have used cashew nut to replace egusi in some other soups . I called it Cashew nut soup
The special thing about this soup is the ‘lumpy’ texture the egusi appears in the soup. My guess is that our grandparents had used this to give the impression of ‘meats’ in the soup. In Nigeria we like to chew meats in between swallows. So guess what the egusi lumps was to provide the ‘meats’. So here we go with the preparation of Nigerian Egusi soup , Yoruba style
How to make Nigerian Egusi Soup?
8 pieces Beef
8-10 pieces Pomo ( cowskin)
Handful of Stockfish pieces
2 medium size smoked Fish
2 cups Egusi ( ground)
Two tablespoons Cashew nut ( ground)
1 cup spinach ( blanched and squeezed)
1 big Onion
2 cooking spoons Blended Tomato/pepper/onion( previously boiled)
2 tablespoons washed Bitter leaf
Two tablespoons ground Crayfish
Scotch Bonnet Pepper to taste
3 cooking spoons Palm Oil
Seasoning cube to taste
1.Season beef and pomo with seasoning cube, pepper, a little onion and salt. Allow to marinade for about 30 minutes.
2. Boil meat till well cooked. Add the stock fish when the meat is almost cooked. Add the fish and cook for about 5- 10 minutes. Take meat off the fire and set aside.
3. Blend the remaining onion with pepper. Add very little water so the blended onion is not watery at all.
4. Add the blended onion to the ground egusi and mix well with a fork to form a stiff paste.
5. Heat up oil in a different pot and fry the tomato/onion/pepper for about 10 minutes.
6. Add seasoning cube, crayfish and meat stock ( about 1 cup)and about 2 cups of water and bring to boil for about 10 minutes.
7. Lower the heat , taste soup to correct the seasoning.
8. Scoop the egusi paste in small balls into the meat stock and cook on low heat for about 15- 20 minutes. Since there is pepper in the egusi you should scoop the balls with a spoon.
9. Stir the soup gently so as not to scatter the egusi. I added some ground Cashew nut to help further thicken the soup. If you have sufficient egusi then you may add some egusi powder.
10. Return all the meats to the soup pot and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
11, Lastly add the bitter leaf and spinach and cook for 3-5 minutes. Taste to correct seasoning and stir gently. The lumpy egusi is ready.
12. Serve with eba or any swallow of choice.