I know this is how we used to call it while growing up. It was always Ofe Egwusi for us until i don’t know when the ‘w’ became silent. I sometimes still call it by that and a times my tongue is stuck between the ‘g’ and ‘w’ as it is trying to compensate both pronunciations. It seems Egusi is now universally accepted, so lets keep going with it, at least you know it’s other local name.
This soup is one of the indigenous Nigerian soups that is not linked specifically to any tribe. It is enjoyed all over and cooked in various ways amongst the various cultures in Nigeria, as well as some other West African Countries. The chief ingredient in Egusi Soup is the Egusi itself, called melon seed, and a very rich source of protein and fats. The white seeds are dried and grounded to make the soup with the addition of other complementary ingredients and vegetables, which makes it a good source of nutrition for the young ones. It is a soup that will be beneficial for their growth development and it is also one that can be easily accepted by even toddlers…that is after Okro soup, i have not seen any child that resisted okro.
I made this Egusi Soup with the kids in mind and used beef, grilled fish and cow leg. My little madam likes sucking on the cow leg bones to get the marrow and the juice, just like we used to do when we were growing up. It is said to be a good source of calcium for children, so not only are they getting 1 hour extra eating time holding and sucking away on their bones but also nutrition in addition to the ones offered in the soup.
Egusi Soup Recipe
- 2 cups ground egusi
- 1 medium to big onions – chopped
- 2 cooking spoon palm oil
- 1 or 2 packs of smoked catfish fillets
- 5 or more pieces of beef -cut into sizable chunks
- 1 or 2 medium size mackerel fish
- 5 – 10 pieces cow leg – cut into sizable chunks
- 2 cooking spoons ground crayfish
- Whole fresh crayfish or prawns – optional
- A bunch of ugu leaves – substitute with spinach, kale or greens.
- Seasoning cube and a small piece of ogili okpei (dawadawa or iru)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Water for cooking
Step 1 – Pre-cooking to be done before you start making your soup.
- Wash cow leg, put in a pot and cook with a little salt or seasoning to taste. This takes time to cook and you can use a pressure cooker to help reduce the cooking time.
- When the cow leg is almost done, add the beef with onions and seasoning cube and cook till they are all soft, leaving enough stock for the soup.
- Wash and cut the mackerel fish into sizeable chunks and grill in the oven. You can deep fry it if you don’t have an oven or prefer frying.
- Pick the ugu leaves and wash properly before chopping or shredding. This helps to retain more nutrients as against shredding before washing (Those that shred their ugu in the market…mhh). Do the same if you are using other green vegetables. If using spinach, be mindful to reduce the water in the soup as it will make it more watery when added.
- You may also want to blend or pound your crayfish with the okpei and peppers.
Step 2 – The cooking proper
- Put the ground egusi in a bowl and add a little water, mix it to a paste and set aside. Put a pot on fire and pour in the oil. Add the onions to fry once the oil is heated and allow to cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the the egusi paste into the oil and fry. Keep stirring continuously to avoid it burning and fry till it looks a bit dry. It does not take time though.
- Add the meat stock to the egusi, together with the smoked fish fillets. Cover and allow to boil, add some water if the soup is too thick and keep stirring occasionally. Boil till you see some red oil floating atop the soup.
- Add the cow leg, beef, blended crayfish, okpei, pepper and crush in the seasoning cube. Stir and allow to simmer for a while.
- Add the ugu or other vegetables as well as the fresh crayfish or prawns and combine well.
- Finally, add the grilled or fried fish and gently stir while checking for taste. I added this last to ensure that they do not break up during the course of all the stirrings and let loose the bones into the soup. Simmer for about a minute and put down to retain the freshness of the vegetables.
- Serve Egusi soup with eba, oatmeal or any ‘swallow’. It can also be eaten with plain boiled rice or yam.
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