The Nigerian delicacy, Egusi soup is one of the most widely eaten meals across West Africa. Many homes prefer it and it’s been used on major and obvious occasions’ in the continent.
However, the soup is widely eaten, easy to prepare and has a lot of African-rich nutrients stored in its DNA. To know how to prepare an egusi soup, one must first think of knowing: what are its benefits to health, why the consumption rate is high, and what ingredients are best suited for preparing the recipe. Before we jump into the whole bubbles of egusi soup, its benefits and how to prepare one, let’s look at some interesting things about Africa’s choicest meal.
Egusi is a West African name for the seeds of plants like squash, melons, and gourds that, when dried and ground become a staple ingredient in many West African dishes. Particularly, in Nigerian culture, egusi is popular with pounded yam, semo, and even locally eaten Amala. These seeds are rich in fat and protein, and add these essential nutrients to West African Cuisine.
Nigerian Egusi Soup is a soup thickened with ground melon seeds and contains leafy and other vegetables. It is one of the most popular soups prepared by most tribes in Nigeria with considerable variation and is often eaten with dishes like Pounded Yams. Prepare it with goat, beef, fish, or shellfish!
You might be salivating already! Yes, that is how interesting and delicious the egusi soup can be. Its benefits have been traced to many nutritional properties, like protein rich in building body blocks that fight against bacteria. Egusi’s primary ingredient is melon seeds, and they have been found to contain phytosterols that help in lowering “bad” LDL (Low-density lipoprotein). Also, the seeds are rich in essential nutrients like protein, dietary fibre, carbohydrates, and essential amino acids. That makes the soup healthy, and always necessary to eat.
Melon seeds are extracted from melon and dried under the sun or air. After well dried, the yellowish-white shell is removed, and the white flesh is ground into powder or paste. If you are more traditional, you can reduce the seeds into a paste using a grinding stone. This is often the practice when the seeds are ready for use.
If you have a modern kitchen, you can ground the seeds into a powdery form, using a dry mill blender, and use some and store the rest for later use. Getting the seed is quite easy. You can get it from open markets or food stores in Nigeria.
If you’re living abroad, you can pick up ground Egusi from International or ethnic grocery stores. This is amazing, right? That’s how easy it is to get the Nigerian egusi soup paste.
Many Nigerians prefer their egusi soups to be prepared in different ways: the egg-like, the normal egusi paste mixed with vegetables or some like it fried. Many cultures in Nigeria, use it as food for different and various events.
We can look at the recipe required to make egusi soup, anywhere in the world; this recipe will show you how to make Nigerian Egusi Soup, a popular West African soup made with melon seeds.
- 1 cup blended onions (about 3- 5 and fresh chillies, to taste)
- 4 cups egusi (melon seeds, ground or milled)
- 1⁄2 – 1 cup palm oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh Une (Iru, locust beans)
- Salt (to taste)
- Ground crayfish (to taste)
- 7– 8 cups of stock
- Cooked Meat & fish (quantity and variety to personal preference)
- 2 cups cut pumpkin leaves
- 1 cup waterleaf (cut)
- 3 tablespoons bitter leaf (washed)
These can be depending on what you want, and the type or kind of vegetables one might want to use in the preparation.
Also, note that the methods are different between tribes and cultures, individuals too, on how to prepare egusi soup, like earlier stated, some might want it fried, ground or just in its normal pastes.
In making egusi soup, keep all options in mind, make sure to wash all your vegetables, meats, fish, and tools, like pots, spoons, bowls, knives, and other kitchen tools, keep them clean and dry at all times, to get the best and quality of your recipe.
These are the methods to follow while preparing egusi soup, these steps are generally accepted, tested and used in different parts of Nigeria: firstly, 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.
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 (any vegetables), and Leafs the lid off while the cooking finishes for another 5-10 minutes. Stir, check to season and adjust accordingly. Now you can sit back and enjoy your delicious Nigerian Egusi Soup!
It looks simple and safe, right?
This is one trick with egusi soup, which is not told, it can get burnt too and is hard to predict, because if the paste is properly boiled and ready for consumption it’s safe. If it is not properly boiled, it may cause stomach upset and running stomach to some persons.
In conclusion, the Nigerian, Egusi soup, and how to cook it, is that it can be prepared anywhere in the world, with the right tools, and ingredients, you can serve an event, your homes and even offices, a well-prepared and satisfying meal.
Another thing about the egusi soup is that it is very affordable depending on what one’s ingredients are and the type of events, one is preparing for. But, as the saying goes; “better soup na money kill am”. You can enjoy your egusi soup with families and colleagues.