Egusi soup is a very popular soup eaten in Nigeria and usually served with Fufu (pounded yam, eba, semovita, etc). It is very rich in healthy fats and protein and made from ground melon seeds.
If you can only get your hands on the whole roasted melon seeds, you can use a food processor or nutribullet style blender to grind to a paste. Or you can just buy from an African store near you. African soups are sometimes cooked with assorted meats like beef, goat meat, cow feet, tripe (shaki), you name it. For this recipe, I have goat meat and cow feet but you can really add type of meat you want to.
The tomatoes, bell pepper, onions and habanero peppers are blended together and cooked under medium heat for about 10 minutes so it becomes a bit thicker. For ease of cooking, sometimes it is better to blend a larger quantity and freeze so it’s available when you need it. Alternatively you can use tomato sauce or paste in a can. While some will argue that it would not have the distinct Nigerian taste, it is still a viable alternative if you don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand or you are short on time. I have done it this way several times and it tastes just as good. The smoked catfish should also be prepped by soaking in hot water for a few minutes and breaking into pieces with the bones removed.
Set your palm oil on the stove and after it begins to get hot, add your chopped onions. Add the blended tomato, bell pepper and habanero pepper in the palm oil and stir for a few minutes. Then add your smoked fish and let cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Add some stock if you have some on hand, if not just add water. When it boils, add your egusi and stir. At this point, different tribes in Nigeria have their own spin on how to add the egusi. The Yorubas like to chop onions, mix with the egusi and form balls with it. I like to just add my egusi straight to the pot. Stir a few minutes and let simmer on medium heat.
Add the goat meat and cow feet or whatever meat you have on hand. Add crayfish, salt and pepper and other spices like knorr, thyme, or whatever your heart desires. Let sit for another 10 minutes on medium-high heat.
Last, add the spinach. I use fresh spinach here but you can also use frozen. Other options are bitter leaf, ugu (pumpkin leaves) or basil (scent leaves). You want to add this last of all because you don’t want it to overcook and become wilted in the soup. Leave on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
Serve with your choice of low carb fufu for a healthy balanced meal. This meal is so filing that you won’t be able to eat a lot in one seating. Not to worry, you can always freeze for a later date or invite a friend over to help you demolish!
Nigerian Egusi Soup
- Heat the palm oil on medium heat for a few minutes, then add chopped onions and your blended tomato/bell pepper/habanero pepper.
- Add your smoked fish and let cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add broth or water and bring to a boil. Add egusi and stir.
- Let simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add meat, crayfish, salt, pepper and any other spice you desire.
- Let sit for another 10 minutes on medium-high heat.
- Add spinach and leave on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Serve with your choice of low carb fufu and enjoy!
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