Nigerian vegetable soup is a local delicacy which is indigenous to the Igbo-speaking tribe of Nigeria. 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.
Nigerian-Igbo vegetable soup is a nutrition-packed delicacy .It is prepared with fresh whole foods and natural produce — majorly vegetables, meat and seafood.
I will 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 water leaf, I will also recommend some American Ingredient Substitute for most of the local ingredients used in vegetable soup preparation. And finally, after you must have learnt how to cook vegetable soup, I will tell you what to enjoy this delicious soup with. Let me start by showing you the various ingredients used in vegetable soup preparation.
Major Condiments Used in Vegetable Soup Preparation
The Nigerian-Igbo vegetable soup preparation is incomplete without assorted meat such as beef, goat meat or chicken; seafood such as snail, dried and stock fish; and vegetables.
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 feeling when eating this meal (lol).
African chef Malcolm Riley explains that “…although 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 as akin to a mix of green beans, asparagus, broccoli and spinach, and according to the USDA, they are a good source of protein, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins A and C”
As Dylan Roche 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 in Vegetable Soup Preparation
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.
How to Cook Vegetable Soup the Nigerian-Igbo Way
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
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.
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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