Egusi soup is a Nigerian soup prepared using egusi seeds, meat (such as beef, smoked poultry, goat, cow skin, and offal) and seafood (smoked dried fish or stockfish). Other ingredients include awara (Nigerian tofu), mushrooms and greens.
Egusi soup is normally accompanied by swallows (soft cooked doughs prepared using roots, tubers, vegetables, flours and more), including eba, fufu and pounded yam. One can also serve this soup with white rice (particularly parboiled long-grain), dodo (fried plantains) and other starchy foods like boiled yams or plantains.
Origin & Cultural Significance
The name of the soup derives from egusi, or agushi, the seeds of specific cucurbitaceous plants (like squash, melon and gourd). These seeds are dried and ground and then used as a main ingredient in West African cuisine.
The soup has a creamy and nutty texture and is considered a staple food throughout Nigeria and in several other parts of West Africa.
Nigerian Egusi Soup Recipe
For the Beef and Stock:
- Bone-in or boneless beef chuck roast (cut into 2-inch pieces) - 450g
- A medium-red onion (thinly sliced)
- Ground crayfish - 2 tbsp
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt - 2 tsp
- Nigerian red dry pepper - 1/2 tsp
For the Egusi Soup:
- A medium red onion (roughly chopped)
- Fresh habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper (optional) - 1/2
- Ground egusi seeds - 2 cups
- Unrefined red palm oil - 3/4 cup
- Kosher salt and Nigerian red dry pepper
- Ground crayfish - 1 tsp
- Fresh pumpkin leaves, amaranth greens, or kale (finely chopped) - 100g
- Fresh waterleaf or spinach (finely chopped) – 100g
- Finely chopped fresh or dried bitter leaf or fresh dandelion greens - 1 tbsp
- Begin by preparing the stock. Take a medium-sized pot. Add beef, onion, crayfish, salt, pepper, and 6 1/2 cups of water to it and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and allow the ingredients to cook until the stock is somewhat reduced and the beef is tender. This should take you around 45 minutes.
- Now, take a slotted spoon and take out the beef. Shift it to a medium heatproof bowl and keep it aside. Reserve stock.
- Next, prepare the egusi soup. Take a food processor or countertop blender, and add the onion, pepper (if using), and 1/4 cup of water to it. Process it until you achieve a smooth mixture. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add in the ground egusi seeds. Pour water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a thick, creamy paste starts to form. Once done, set the paste aside.
- Now, take a saucepan and heat oil over a low flame for 1 minute. Carefully pour in all of the reserved stock and the crayfish, and bring all the ingredients to a simmer. Add the freshly prepared paste (1 teaspoon at a time) to the stock.
- Make sure to cover the pan and then cook, stirring and softly scraping the bottom of the vessel every now and then. It should take you about 25 minutes until all of the paste is firm and brittle.
- Throw in the reserved beef and combine gently to disintegrate the cooked paste into curds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep cooking until the beef is heated completely and is tender. Some of the orange-red coloured palm oil may gather on the surface. It should require at least 10 minutes.
- Add pumpkin leaves and waterleaf on top of the soup. There’s no need to stir the soup. Cover the vessel and allow it to steam until the greens are wilted. It’ll take about 2 minutes. Now, combine the wilted greens with the soup, stirring slowly. Throw in the bitter leaf and let the soup cook for about 8 minutes.
- Once done, you can transfer the soup to different bowls and serve it hot along with eba, dodo or cooked white rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 744Total Fat: 61gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 578mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 6gSugar: 3gProtein: 36g