November 28, 2022

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Cooking Is My World

Nigerian Pepper Soup Recipe

Why It Works

  • Toasting the spices in advance of grinding develops their flavors. 
  • A home made mix of spices provides far more flavor than a retail outlet-acquired blend.
  • Employing pores and skin-on, bone-in hen produces a deeply flavorful soup with a rich texture.

Pepper soup―a comforting Nigerian soup seasoned with a spice mix and fresh new lemongrass―is preferred yr-spherical, loved throughout the region and served by avenue food sellers in bars and places to eat from the rainy season (March to November) to harmattan (November to March), the dry period that commences with dust-laden winds blowing over the region from the Sahara. The name is a misnomer since the soup is not always described by a pepper-ahead taste profile―the flavors are significantly far more complex, with nutty, bitter, woodsy, and floral notes, as properly as warmth. 

This 1-pot dish marries a deeply-flavored broth with a protein. For meat, it’s widespread to use rooster (stewing hens, in its place of broilers, are most popular for their fuller taste), goat, or cow’s foot, together with an assortment of offal, this kind of as tripe, intestines, liver, and kidney. As for seafood, you will see variations made with tilapia, catfish, croaker, snapper, or dried fish. There are places that even supply ‘point-and-kill’ solution, the place you can select reside catfish from a tank and have it be ready to order―whole, slash into chunks, head bundled or taken off, with herbs, and with various spice ranges, in accordance to your tastes. And then you can find social gathering pepper soup, typically manufactured with a mix of meat and offal, which is typically served as the initial training course at Nigerian parties. 

The broth is seasoned with a mix of ordinarily two or far more indigenous spices (whole, crushed, or finely floor), like erhe (calabash nutmeg), urheri/uda (grains of Selim), alligator pepper (grains of paradise), umilo (cocoplum), and gbafilo (tough-skinned plum). When you have made a decision on your protein, it’s only a matter of combining it with the spice mix, drinking water, and herbs like lemongrass leaves, which are used as medicine and food stuff in Nigeria, integrated into tonics, tea, broths). Escalating up, my mum typically extra lime leaves (not a prevalent addition but just one that pairs very well). Other individuals like to incorporate some heft to their broth by incorporating tomatoes, onions, and fresh new chiles. To complete, it is typical to increase some shredded scent leaf (Ocimum gratissimum), an herb that’s linked to mint and basil. 

Maureen Celestine / Major Eats


My favored variation of pepper soup is from the Niger Delta location in southern coastal Nigeria, which is distinguished by the fact that it makes use of extra spices in its spice mix. When I was a kid, my mum and grandma designed several versions of it, including a thick, creamy soup identified as ukodo, in which yams and/or unripe plantains are cooked instantly in the broth seasoned with akaun (a indigenous alkaline rock salt that contributes a a little mineral and earthy essence). As the veggies cook dinner, they soften, yielding a pepper soup with a thicker, sauce-like consistency.

For the model below, which is manufactured with chicken and encouraged by my mum and grandmother, I start off by mixing, toasting, and grinding spices―nutty erhe, smoky and musky urheri, aromatic and spicy alligator pepper with notes of ginger, pepper and cardamom, and nutty-tasting umilo and gbafilo―to generate a deeply-flavored, whole-bodied mix. Once that is completed, I combine the chicken, floor crayfish (a powder created from smoked and/or dried shrimp and prawns recognised regionally as crayfish), lemongrass leaves (I use stalks of lemongrass when I just cannot uncover the tall, skinny leaves), and the spice blend, alongside with h2o, in a pot. As soon as the hen is tender, I finish it with lime leaves and time with Nigerian dry pepper (you can use cayenne if you have it) and salt.

You can perform all around with the proteins. If you’re applying tender chicken (broilers), fish, or prawns and other seafood that get a lot less time to cook, I suggest cooking the soup low and sluggish and also incorporating bones or shells to the pot to create and concentrate the taste. For seafood versions, I like to use prawn or shrimp stock instead of h2o. As soon as the flavor has made, I strain out the bones or shells, include the seafood, and simmer until cooked. 

At property, I enjoy serving pepper soup with evenly salted boiled yam, just-ripe plantains, and lashings of thick, unrefined red palm oil―I highly propose you do the similar.