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How to Make Egusi Soup: Methods & Recipe

For lovers of African delicacies, here is how to make Egusi Soup.

Egusi Soup with lumps is a very indulgent exotic soup, which is popularly taken in the majority of countries in West Africa. It is prepared with a variety of ingredients, including egusi seeds, chicken, smoked fish, and crayfish, based on your style and taste.

The soup has an inviting look, oozing with earthy flavours. In a country like Cameroon, it’s occasionally used for preparing Egusi pudding, which is a highly addictive pudding. Egusi seeds (melon) is only available for purchase in an African store or via the Internet. However, if you are in West Africa, you can easily find them in most markets. After buying the seeds, you can store them in the refrigerator, and it’ll stay fresh for a year, or even longer.

Let’s now discuss how to make Egusi Soup in detail.

Different Methods of Preparing Egusi Soup

The recipe for making Egusi Soup described in this post is the fried method. It is typically used to prepare Nigerian Egusi Soup, which is called by other names — Ofe Egusi, Miyan Gushi, or Efo Elegusi.

This procedure to be outlined below is also called the oil before egusi method.

Apart from this technique, there are other ways of cooking Egusi Soup, and they include the following:

  • Caking Method: This Egusi Soup preparation technique is also called this Egusi before oil method. Here, there is no frying involved, which makes it a healthier way of cooking Egusi Soup.
  • Akpuruakpu Egusi: In this method, the egusi seeds (melon) are ground and then moulded into balls. After that, they are cooked in the soup in such a way that you’ll be taking the egusi balls like meat as you enjoy the meal. The caking method explained above is used to make the surrounding egusi in the soup is prepared using. You can try it.

Because the fried egusi method involves frying the ground egusi seeds (melon seeds), which can cause heartburn, some people may not like the procedure. Apart from that, the soup also requires a greater quantity of palm oil compared with the caking method.

Nevertheless, let’s discuss how to make Egusi Soup using the fried method.

What Are the Required Ingredients?

This is the list of recipe needed to make Egusi Soup using the oil before egusi method:

  • Four (4) cups of egusi seeds, weighing 500 grams
  • Three (3) cooking spoons of red palm oil
  • Fish, which could be dry fish and stockfish
  • Beef, which is best cut and cow tripe (locally called Shaki)
  • Two (2) tablespoons of ground crayfish
  • Pepper and Salt to add taste
  • Vegetable, which could be Nigerian spinach, pumpkin leaves, or bitter leaf
  • Three (3) small stock cubes
  • One (1) small ogiri okpei (this is optional)

What Is the Major Tool Needed?

The important tool required is a spice grinder to grinding egusi (or melon) seeds.

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Steps to Make Egusi Soup Using the Ingredients

  1. Put 3–4 cooking spoons of palm oil in your pot, depending on the quantity of egusi and/or your preferences. You need to ensure there’s enough quantity of palm oil to turn every grain of the ground egusi yellow. If your ground egusi isn’t adequately coated, it’ll burn during frying. This will yield Egusi Soup, which is dry and have a burnt taste. If you’re concerned about the quantity of palm oil to use for making the soup, we recommend that you use the Caking Method.
  2. If you plan on taking the Egusi Soup with swallows, the best meat for Nigerian soups generally for this combination is red meat, and beef is the most common form. Also, you can make use of goat meat. Some people also prefer cook Egusi Soup with chicken; that is also okay.
  3. If you go for chicken, try not to make use of dry fish & stockfish because the two cannot exist together, in addition to chicken in a single Nigerian pot. 
  4. If you want to make use of bitter leaves, you can consider adding it a bit earlier since it’s a tough vegetable (more on that in the below cooking directions). Don’t forget that they have to be thoroughly washed to get rid of all the bitter taste unless your household likes the bitter taste.
  5. Locust beans is the chief ingredient in Ogiri okpei, and it’s called iru in Yoruba language. You can use it to add a traditional taste to your Egusi Soup.

Before Cooking Egusi Soup

  1. Before you prepare the soup, soak the dry fish & stockfish till they become soft. If you’re making use of the very tough stockfish, let it boil it for twenty (20) min and leave it in the pot with the hot water so it can soak for around one hour. If you are making use of the softer stockfish, simply soak it in cool water till you are able to break it apart using your hands.
  2. Once the fish & stockfish become soft, the next things are de-boning and breaking them into sizeable chunks.
  3. When it is much closer to your cooking time, then grind the egusi with the aid of a dry mill. Now, grind your crayfish & the dry pepper separately and put the mixture in one side.
  4. You can now rinse your vegetables and cut them into very small pieces.
  5. Cook the beef & fish, along with the stock cubes till they’re properly done. Begin cooking the toughest meat & fish first. Then, add the rest as they are done. If you are using a normal pot, you can start with stockfish & shaki, add beef after around one hour and then cook the mixture till it is done. You can also put the dry fish when all the other meat & fish have been cooked as it’s cooked already. You only have to cook it long enough until it gets soft and mix properly with the remaining ingredients.
  6. Now put all these in one side.

What Are the Cooking Directions?

  1. Start by pouring the red palm oil into a dry pot; the next thing is to set the pot on the stove to heat. Once the oil melts, add your ground egusi & start frying. If you notice that the oil isn’t congealed, you can add the egusi immediately the oil becomes translucent. Then, mix the ground egusi with oil until you can see that every grain of egusi has turned yellow.
  2. Now, start stirring the egusi on low–medium heat, and continue with this for around 10 minutes.
  3. In the next step, add the meat or fish stock (along with water from cooking the meat & fish) little by little as you keep stirring the egusi. Add a bit of the fish stock and stir-fry for a while. Then, add another and stir-fry again, and continue to repeat it. As soon as the stock gets exhausted, and you notice the soup is still too thick, start adding hot water in the same way until you achieve your desired result. If bitter leaf is the vegetable you have chosen, you can add it now.
  4. Continue by covering the pot and cooking for twenty (20) min, stirring the soup at intervals. You can also top up the water if you feel it is necessary. It will burn if you don’t stir it. It takes half an hour to properly cook egusi; if not, the soup won’t have a nice taste, especially to a person that has authentic Nigerian taste buds. Egusi that is also not cooked long enough could lead to stomach upset. When you see the oil has separated from the mix, this means your Egusi Soup is done.
  5. When you’re satisfied that it’s done, you can now add the ground crayfish & pepper. Then, stir & add the Nigerian pumpkin leaves or an alternative like spinach.
  6. Stir the Egusi Soup properly and put the cooked stockfish, meat, and shaki.
  7. If it is necessary, you can add salt. If the soup is too thick, add some water until you achieve the desired result.
  8. Cover the pot and leave it to simmer. That’s all: Your Egusi soup is done!

Wrapping up

Egusi Soup with lumps is a very indulgent exotic soup, popularly taken in the majority of countries in the West African sub-region.  The soup has an inviting look, oozing with earthy flavours.

Having learnt how to make Egusi Soup, you can now go ahead and prepare it. The perfect swallow you can take with Egusi Soup is Pounded Yam. Other swallows you can equally serve it with include Eba (Garri), Amala, Cassava Fufu, Agidi, Semolina Fufu, or Tuwo Shinkafa.

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