Here's How To Cook Egusi Soup With Ugwu Leaves (Recipe)
Egusi is a West African name for the seeds of plants like squash, melons, and gourds; when dried and ground, they become a staple ingredient in many West African dishes. Particularly in Nigerian culture, egusi is popular with pounded yam. These seeds are rich in fat and protein, and add these essential nutrients into West African Cuisine. And our recipe will teach you how to cook egusi soup with the nutritious ugwu leaves.
Nigerian Egusi Soup is made thick using ground melon seeds and leafy vegetables. It is one of the most popular soups prepared by many Nigerian tribes. The people eat it with dishes like Pounded Yam. You can prepare egusi soup with goat, beef, fish, or shellfish! Let's go on to prepare the soup, shall we?
Two methods of cooking Egusi Soup:
- Egusi Soup (Caking Method): I also call this one the Egusi Before Oil method. No frying is involved, making it a healthier way to prepare Egusi Soup.
- Akpuruakpu Egusi: where the ground egusi is moulded into balls and cooked in the soup such that you will be eating the egusi balls like meat while enjoying the meal. The surrounding egusi in the soup is prepared using the caking method.
How To Cook Egusi Soup
- 1 cup blended onions and about 3- 5 and fresh chilli pepper
- 4 cups egusi melon seeds, ground or milled
- 1⁄2 – 1 cup palm oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh Une Iru, locust beans
- Salt to taste
- Dry fish
- Ground crayfish to taste
- 7– 8 cups stock
- Cooked Meat & fish quantity and variety to personal preference
- 2 cups cut pumpkin leaves (ugwu)
- 1 cup waterleaf cut
- 3 tablespoons bitter leaf washed
Before you prepare your Egusi Soup
- Before preparing the soup, soak the dry fish and stockfish till soft. If you are using the very tough stockfish, boil it for 20 minutes and leave in the pot with the hot water to soak for about an hour. If using the softer stockfish, you can just soak them in cool water till you can break them apart with your hands.
- When the fish and stockfish are soft, de-bone and break them into sizeable chunks.
- Much closer to your cooking time, grind the egusi with a dry mill. Grind the crayfish and the dry pepper separately and set aside.
- Rinse the vegetables to be used and cut into tiny pieces.
- Cook the beef and fish with the stock cubes till they are well done. You should start cooking the toughest meat and fish first and add the others as they get done. If using a normal pot, I will start with stockfish and shaki, add beef after about 1 hour and cook till done. You can add the dry fish when all the other meat and fish are cooked because it is already cooked, you just need to cook it long enough till it is soft and integrated with the rest of the ingredients. With a pressure pot, I do it differently but that is a process for another post.
- Set all these aside.
Prepare the egusi paste.
Blend egusi seeds and onion mixture. Set aside.
MAKE THE SOUP:
In a large pot, heat the palm oil on medium for a minute and then add the Une.
Slowly add the stock and set on low heat to simmer.
Scoop teaspoon size balls of the egusi paste mixture into the stock. Be sure to keep ball shape.
Leave to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes so the balls cook through.
Add the meat and fish and other bits which you’d like to use.
Next, add cut-up pumpkin leaves.
Add the waterleaf.
Stir and put a lid on the pot and allow cook for 7–10 minutes, till the leaves wilt.
Add the bitter leaf. Leave the lid off while the cooking finishes for another 5-10 minutes.
Stir, check seasoning and adjust accordingly.