Egusi Soup is a rich and savory Nigerian soup traditionally eaten with high-carb fufu dishes like pounded yam, semovita or eba. Pair it with low carb fufu on your keto diet for a healthy meal!
What is Egusi made up of?
Egusi seeds are melon seeds that grow primarily in the warm regions of Africa. It is composed of about 50% healthy fats and 30% protein, which makes it perfect for a low carb diet.
It is also packed full of healthy nutrients like Vitamins A, B1, B2, and C. Talk about one healthy dish!
Egusi seeds are usually blended before cooking and this can be easily done using a food processor, nutri-bullet style blender or coffee grinder.
You do not add water when blending, but as you blend you would notice the consistency changes to a somewhat powdery paste. You can buy the actual seeds or buy them pre-ground.
If you are from Nigeria, you would quickly realize that different cultures within Nigeria cook Egusi soup quite differently from the other.
I know how to make at least four different variations and the taste and textures vary slightly. My mum frequently made two different versions and that was what I got used to.
But for sake of simplicity, this Egusi soup recipe is really easy and you don’t need to worry about making it fit into any mold, just enjoy with your choice of low carb fufu.
Your taste buds will sing for joy no matter what!
African soups are mostly cooked with an assortment of meat like beef, goat meat, cow feet, tripe (shaki), you name it. For this recipe, I used goat meat and cow feet but you can really add any type of meat you want to.
I did not add time to boil the meat to this recipe because there are so many variations of this and I already had some pre-boiled in the fridge.
If you don’t have any boiled meat, it will take 20-30 minutes to boil it depending on the type of meat you want to add.
The tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, and habanero peppers are blended using a food processor with minimal water added. If you need to use a blender instead, you would have to steam under medium heat for about 10 minutes so it becomes a bit thicker.
Alternatively, you can use tomato sauce or paste in a can if that’s all you really have on hand. But I promise you, fresh vegetables are so much more delicious!
The smoked catfish should also be prepared by soaking in hot water for a few minutes and breaking into pieces with the bones removed. This is sometimes added to African dishes as it gives a really unique taste and flavor.
You can omit this if you don’t have any on hand.
How to prepare Egusi Soup
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 to 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 meat or chicken broth if you have some on hand, if not just add water. When it boils, add your ground egusi seeds and stir.
At this point, different tribes in Nigeria have their own spin on how to add the Egusi seeds. The Yorubas like to chop onions, mix with the egusi and form balls, before adding it.
I didn’t use onions but I just formed balls and placed them into the mixture. Stir a few minutes carefully and slowly and let simmer on medium heat.
Add the goat meat and cow feet or whatever meat you have on hand. Add ground crayfish, salt, pepper, and bouillon powder. Let sit for another 10 minutes on medium-high heat.
Lastly, add the chopped 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.
Tips and Substitutions when making Egusi Soup
This recipe serves 8 and contains 4 net carbs per serving.
You can substitute spinach leaves with other Nigerian leafy greens like bitter leaf or Ugwu leaves.
Feel free to add as many leafy greens as you want. You can also add less.
- 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 this savory dish!
- You can substitute spinach leaves with other Nigerian leafy greens like bitter leaf or Ugwu leaves.
- Feel free to add as many leafy greens as you want. You can also add less.