Nigerian white soup, popularly known as Ofe Nsala (in Igbo) or Afia Efere (in Ibibio), is one of the trendy delicacies in the country.
It’s known as white soup because, unlike most indigenous soups cooked in these parts of the country, little to no palm oil is used in its preparation.
Apart from its rich taste, the soup is also nearly effortless to prepare, making it a favorite among many.
Amongst the Igbos, it’s referred to as Ofe Nsala, and it’s called Afia Efere by the Efiks/Ibibios in the South. And just as the names differ based on the tribe, they are also slightly different ingredients and spices used to prepare Nigerian white soup. We will be looking at how to prepare it the Eastern way.
When preparing the Nigerian white soup, some people prefer to use goat meat, chicken, or even beef predominantly, while some mostly use catfish or other fresh fish together with dried and stock fish.
Nigerian White Soup (Ofe Nsala)
- 500 grams Goat Meat or Beef
- 3 mid-sized Stockfish
- 1 mid-sized Dried Fish
- 2 cubes Maggi / Know Seasoning
- 1 Small Red Onion
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Fresh / Ground Pepper
- 2 tbsp Ground Crayfish
- 1 tbsp African Nutmeg Seeds (Ehuru)
- 3 slices Fresh Yam
- 150 grams Uziza Leaves
Directions for Preparation
How to Season the Meatballs
- Wash meat and stockfish properly.
- Cut meat into smaller pieces and put them into a pot together with the stockfish.
- Add one cube of seasoning cubes.
- Slice the onion and pour it into the pot.
- Sprinkle a little salt into the mixture.
- Add one teaspoon of ground pepper.
- Add a little water into the pot.
- Allow simmering for about 5 minutes till the meat is tender.
- When it’s tender, please turn off the fire and keep it aside till it’s time to prepare the soup.
- The stockfish is usually added to steam with the meat to allow it to soften and break up into smaller pieces, as this type of fish is usually really tough.
How to Prepare Catfish if it’s Used
The preparation is slightly different if you use Catfish in place of the meat. Usually, you cut the catfish in the market into sizable chunks. To prepare it:
- Boil a little water in a Pot.
- Pour the hot water into the bowl containing the fish. The hot water helps to wash off the slime, and it also helps to harden it slightly, which will prevent it from scattering inside the pot too quickly.
- Pour out the hot water and rinse properly with cooler water.
- Put inside a pot and season with pepper, onions, a sprinkle of salt, and one seasoning cube of your choice.
- Allow it to steam on low heat for about 5 minutes. If you leave it too long, the entire fish might disintegrate inside the pot.
- Add water to your fish stock and cook.
How to Prepare the Yam (Thickener)
Yam is mainly used as a thickener for the soup, although other alternatives can also be used to thicken the soup. To prepare the Yam thickener, follow the following steps:
- Peel the yam and chop it into smaller pieces
- Wash the chopped yam properly and pour it into a pot with water covering the yam.
- Allow the yam to boil till it’s soft enough to pound or blend.
- Pound it till you get a smooth consistency.
- You can also use a blender or hand mixer if you don’t have the traditional cooking items (mortar and pestle) for pounding the yam, or opt for pounded yam flour.
How to Prepare the Uziza or Utazi Leaves
Using Uziza leaves or Utazi is optional, although it helps to add flavor to the soup. If you’re to use Utazi leaves, consider using the leaves sparingly to avoid imparting too much of a bitter taste to the soup. Here’s how to prepare the leaves:
- Wash the leaves thoroughly.
- Chop into fine pieces and keep them aside until ready for use.
Preparation of the Soup
- Add water to the meat and stockfish to increase the stock to the quantity of soup you want to make
- Wash the dried fish properly and add it to the stock.
- Add spices such as the ground nutmeg, two cooking cubes, 2-3 spoons of ground or pounded crayfish, and one tablespoon of pepper.
- Add salt to taste.
- Allow this to cook for about 5 minutes.
- When it starts to boil, add small pieces of the pounded yam or any other thickener into the mixture and allow it to cook until it dissolves and thickens the soup.
- You can add a little water if the soup becomes too thick for your taste.
- Add the chopped Uziza or Utazi leaves and allow to simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.
- After you turn off your burner, your soup is ready.
Alternatives to Using Yam as a Thickener
- Aside from yam, cocoyam can also be used as a thickener. It is prepared in the same manner as the yam.
- Achi can also be used as a thickener when yam, yam flour, or cocoyam are unavailable. The Achi seeds are ground to a fine consistency and added simultaneously when the yam is added to thicken the soup.
- Ofor seeds are crushed and ground into a powdered form and can be used in any other thickener that isn’t available.
How to Store the Soup After Preparation
Although Nigerian white soup is best taken when freshly cooked, it can also be stored if it is made in large quantities to be kept for later use.
To store white soup, you need to put it in a bowl and allow it to cool a bit before putting it in the freezer.
Although it can be stored for a long time if it is well frozen, it is still best not to keep it for longer than a few days. I mean, what’s the fun in that?.
What Can Nigerian White Soup Be Eaten With?
This soup is most enjoyable when eaten with pounded yam. It can sometimes be eaten with other swallows such as fufu, Semovita, or garri (Eba). If you’d like to, you can also eat the soup on its own.
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