1 Delicious Nigerian Bitter Leaf Soup: Ofe Onugbu

1 Delicious Nigerian Bitter Leaf Soup: Ofe Onugbu pinit View Gallery 1 photo

1 Delicious Nigerian Bitter Leaf Soup: Ofe Onugbu.
Ofe Onugbu, a delicious Nigerian soup, is made with bitter leaves (washed to remove bitterness), meat, fish, and cocoyam. The cocoyam thickens the soup, while the bitter leaves add a unique flavor. It’s traditionally enjoyed with a swallow, like fufu or rice.

1 Delicious Nigerian Bitter Leaf Soup: Ofe Onugbu

Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 30 mins Total Time 40 mins
Servings: 4


1 Delicious Nigerian Bitter Leaf Soup: Ofe Onugbu.
A Culinary Journey to Eastern Nigeria: Ofe Onugbu
Ofe Onugbu, a vibrant soup originating from eastern Nigeria, is a delightful exploration of bold flavors and textures. The name itself translates to "Bitter Leaf Soup" in Igbo, one of Nigeria's major languages. While the "bitter" might deter some, the magic lies in the meticulous preparation that removes the bitterness, revealing a symphony of savory and spicy notes.

The Soul of the Soup: Bitter Leaves and Cocoyam
The heart of Ofe Onugbu lies in two key ingredients: bitter leaves and cocoyam. Bitter leaves, also known as vernonia amygdalina, lend a unique character to the soup. They are meticulously washed with hot water, sometimes even boiled briefly, to remove most of their inherent bitterness. What remains is a subtle earthy hint that perfectly complements the other flavors.
Cocoyam, a root vegetable with a starchy texture, serves as the thickening agent for Ofe Onugbu. Boiled and then mashed or blended until smooth, it creates a luxuriously thick and creamy base for the soup.

Aromatic Symphony: The Art of Ofe Onugbu Preparation
The preparation of Ofe Onugbu is a beautiful dance of aromas and textures. The journey typically begins with boiling tougher meats like cow leg and shaki. Once they achieve a tender texture, softer meats, like beef, are introduced. Stockfish, a staple in Nigerian cuisine, adds another layer of savory richness to the pot.
While the meats simmers, the cocoyam is boiled separately. This is a meticulous process, ensuring the cocoyam cooks through without getting mushy. Once cooked, it's transformed into a smooth paste, ready to be incorporated into the simmering broth.

A Celebration of Seafood and Spice
The fragrant trinity of crayfish, smoked prawns, and blended pepper adds another dimension of flavor to Ofe Onugbu. Crayfish and prawns infuse the broth with a subtle sweetness, while the blended pepper, often a combination of chili peppers, tomatoes, and onions, brings a welcome kick of heat.

Palm Oil Magic and the Delicate Ogiri Touch
Palm oil, a vibrant orange oil extracted from the palm fruit, adds a smoky depth and richness to Ofe Onugbu. It's gently simmered with the broth, allowing its flavors to meld with the other ingredients.
Ogiri, a fermented locust bean condiment, is an optional ingredient that adds a complex depth of umami to the soup. Its unique flavor profile is not for everyone, but for those who appreciate it, a touch of ogiri can elevate Ofe Onugbu to new heights.

The Balancing Act: Bitter Leaves and Final Touches
The carefully washed bitter leaves are added towards the end of the cooking process. A brief simmer allows them to wilt and release their subtle earthy notes without overpowering the other flavors.

The final step is a critical one: tasting and adjusting the seasoning. Ofe Onugbu should be a harmonious balance of savory, spicy, and slightly bitter flavors. A sprinkle of salt might be all that's needed to achieve this perfect equilibrium.

The Perfect Pairing: Enjoying Ofe Onugbu
Ofe Onugbu is traditionally served with a "swallow," a Nigerian term for various doughy or starchy staples like fufu, pounded yam, or semovita. These swallows act as the perfect foil for scooping up the rich and flavorful soup.

A Culinary Adventure Awaits
Ofe Onugbu is a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness of Nigerian cuisine. It takes a simple concept—bitter leaves—and transforms it into a delightful and nourishing soup. So, if you're looking for a culinary adventure, look no further than Ofe Onugbu. It's a guaranteed explosion of flavor and a journey to the heart of eastern Nigerian cuisine.



Boil meats:

  1. Start with tougher meats, like cow legs and shaki.
  2. Once slightly tender, add softer meats, like beef.
  3. When everything is tender, add stockfish and cook until soft.

Boil cocoyam:

  1. Boil cocoyam with the skin on (no salt) for 20 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Peel and mash the cocoyam, or blend it until smooth.

Prepare bitter leaves:

  1. Wash bitter leaves with hot water to remove bitterness.
  2. If using dried leaves, soak them in warm water first.

Combine and simmer:

  1. Once meats and fish are cooked, add crayfish, smoked prawns, and blended pepper.
  2. Stir in palm oil and simmer for 3–4 minutes.

Thicken the soup:

  1. Gradually add the blended cocoyam until the soup reaches a desired consistency (semi-fluid or thicker).

Simmer and adjust flavors:

  1. Add ogiri, stir, and taste for seasoning.
  2. Add the washed bitter leaves and simmer for 2–3 minutes.


  1. Enjoy your ofe onugbu with your preferred swallow!
Keywords: how to prepare bitter leaf soup with cocoyam, bitter leaf soup recipe, Nigerian bitter leaf soup ingredients, ingredients for bitter leaf soup,

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