I’ve received a lot of calls to teach people how to cook vegetable soup with ugu and water leaf, and many other Nigerian recipes. Maybe because I’m a Nigerian. To assuage this inundating demands, I’ve called Oliver Ogbu, a certified Chef and a Nutritionist to discuss the topic “how to cook vegetable soup with ugu and water leaf”.
What is Nigerian Vegetable Soup?
Nigerian vegetable soup is a local delicacy indigenous to the Igbo-speaking tribe of Nigeria, says Oliver Ogbu. There are also assorted varieties in other parts of Nigeria, for instance, Adikaikong in south-south Nigeria, Efo Riro in the south-western Nigeria and many other similar dishes in other parts of the Africa.
This post aims to teach you how to cook vegetable soup with ugu and water leaf – the Nigerian way (Igbo vegetable soup). In addition to guiding you on how to cook vegetable soup with ugu and waterleaf, this article will recommend some American Ingredient (Substitutes for most of the local ingredients used in vegetable soup preparation).
And finally, after you must have learnt how to cook vegetable soup, this post will tell you what to enjoy this delicious soup with.
Let’s start by showing you the various ingredients used in vegetable soup preparation.
Major Condiments Used in Vegetable Soup Preparation
The vegetable used in Nigerian vegetable soup preparation is pumpkin leaf (locally known as Ugu by the Igbos and Ikong Ubong by the Efiks and Ibibios).
A small portion of water leaf is also often added in vegetable soup preparation to soften the Ugu. Water leaf gives the soup a better feel and give you a magical taste when eating this meal (😋).
My Ingredient for Vegetable Soup Preparation
The ingredient I use include:
#1. 5 kilos of roasted/dried fish;
#2. 1 cup of crayfish;
#3. 10 to 12 cups of waterleaf;
#4. 6 cups of ugu leaf;
#5. 1 cup of palm oil;
#6. Average-sized stockfish head
#7. Meat you prefer (assorted is the best);
#8. Salt and pepper to taste;
#9. 3-4 cubes of Maggi or Knorr;
#10. 1 cup of periwinkles (to taste);
#11. Two tablespoons of ofor or achi;
#12. Half a cup of onions.
The measurements may be adjusted if you would like to cook more or less food.
American Ingredients For Vegetable Soup Preparation
Chef Oliver Ogbu explains that ugu leaves might sound unusual to Americans. pumpkin leaves and squash leaves are a regular part of the diet in African and Asian countries. He likened their taste to a mix of green beans, asparagus, broccoli and spinach. According to the USDA, ugu leaves or pumpkin leaveare a good source of protein, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins A and C”
READ ALSO: Vegetable Soup calories and Nutrition
As Oliver Ogbu rightly observed, “ugu leaves are a great option for vegetarians, who need plant-based sources of protein, calcium and iron. According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin C can boost the body’s absorption of iron. Good thing ugu leaves are a source of both nutrients! “
The choicest meat and meat parts used are cow feet, beef, kpomo or kanda (a traditionally processed animal skin), goat meat and chicken. Seafood include dried fish, stock fish and snail. You may choose to use beef, kpomo, catfish (preferably fried with palm oil), dried fish, stock fish, periwinkle and snail. You may also substitute the beet with goat meat, chicken or cow legs.
Nothing stops you from using the combination of all the proteins outlined above. However, to specially enjoy Nigerian-Igbo vegetable soup, it is advised that you don’t used a mix of beef, goat meat and chicken in one vegetable soup preparation. Each of these individual meat (beef, goat meat and chicken) can be combined with the other listed proteins.
Other Ingredients Used to Cook Ugu and Water Leaf Vegetable Soup
A list of other condiments used in the preparation of vegetable soup are cray fish, pepper (preferably fresh red pepper), salt, cube seasoning (maggi, etc), palm oil, and onions.
American Vegetable Substitute For Ugu Leave
If you are in the United States or UK, you may find it rather difficult getting Ugu leaves as they are unavailable. Thus, this may defeat your quest to have a taste of this magical delicacy.
Not to worry. You can employ some flexibility and seek other substitutes in vegetable soup preparation. According to African Foods, – since some ingredients may not even be available in the United States, adjustments might be necessary. Among those unavailable ingredients are fresh ugu leaves; however, you might be able to find dried variations in African food shops, or if those are unavailable, substitute collard or greens.
READ ALSO: Ovaltine Nutrition 2021 Review
How to Cook Vegetable Soup With Ugu and Water Leaf
- Rinse the meat under water and put it in a large pot.
- Add the onion, spices, and cook the mixture for half an hour.
- Wash the crayfish and periwinkles under cool water and add them to the pan.
- Wait until the meat is about 3/4 soft compared to full readiness.
- Rinse the stockfish head in hot water to get rid of dirt and sand, mix it with the rest of the ingredients.
- If the fish is very dry, add it at the very beginning.
- Slice ugu and waterleaves into small pieces. It’s convenient to buy already sliced leaves. Sellers often slice the leaves themselves. If you need to cut the leaves yourself, use a chopping board and a sharp knife.
- Put the leaves in separate dishes and rinse them with water to get rid of sand. Ugu can be washed before slicing, but you have to wash waterleaves after cutting.
- Add 1 cup of palm oil (250 millilitres) to the boiling ingredients.
- Add spices according to your taste. The dish should then be cooked for another 10 minutes.
- Make sure all ingredients boil with a little water.
- Mix the soup, taste it a little and decide whether you need to add spices before putting waterleaves in.
- Stir and wait for 3 more minutes before adding the waterleaves.
- Mix and add seafood, periwinkle, Knorr, or Maggi.
- If desired, add ground ofor or achi (1 big spoon).
- Then add your ugu leaves.
- Cover the pan with a lid, leaving a small opening for steam and let the soup boil for another 5 minutes.
Once all your ingredients are ready – vegetables sliced, meat and seafood properly washed with salt, then you may commence vegetable soup preparation.
Steam the meat, stock fish and snail with onions and salt or maggi for 10 to 15 minutes on a moderate heat.
Then add your dried fish, and cat fish (already fried with palm oil), and allow to steam for 5 minutes.
Tip on how to prepare vegetable soup: Use little water for steaming. The water level should not submerge the meat.
Add other condiments apart from the ugu leave and water leaf (if you’re using that). Allow it to steam for 3 minutes.
Tip on how to prepare vegetable soup: Take care that you do not over-salt the cuisine. Taste the salt level to ensure it is moderate. Salt is better insufficient than overdosed.
If you are using water leaf, add it, stir the soup and cover to steam for 2 minutes.
Then add your ugu and wait for 3 minutes before turning off the heat. VOOLA! Your Nigerian Vegetable soup is ready.
Vegetable soup is served with garri (cassava flour also known as eba), fufu (prepared from fermented cassava) or pounded yam. It can also be used as stew for rice or noodles. These are all rich in carbohydrates.
Now that you have learnt how to cook vegetable soup with ugu and water leaf, I challenge you to try it out. There is no gain learning how to cook vegetable soup if you don’t challenge yourself to give it a try. I bet you will ultimately enjoy the magically taste of this meal.
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