There are several ways of making egusi soup depending on which part of Nigeria you come from. Some people like their egusi thick and clumpy; others prefer a smoother sauce. Some add tomatoes (generally in the West of Nigeria), whilst Southerners would balk at adding tomatoes. Still others form the egusi into little dumplings and add to the meat broth to cook.
This version includes red bell peppers which helps reduce the amount of palm oil you need to achieve a rich red colour.
- 450g egusi seeds
- 4 tablespoons palm oil
- 4 tablespoons ground crayfish
- 1 red bell pepper, about 220g
- 1 onion, about 160g
- 1 scotch bonnet chilli, about 8g
- 500ml meat stock
- 1L water
- 1kg cooked meat (any combination)
- 250g cooked stockfish
- 400g frozen or fresh spinach (you may add more, according to your preference)
- 400g fresh prawns (optional)
- Lightly toast the egusi seeds in the oven or a dry frying pan until they are lightly browned. This gives the final soup a slightly nutty taste. Then using a spice mill or coffee grinder, grind them to a fine powder. Ready-ground egusi seeds may be used to save time.
- Blend the onion, tomatoes and chilli until smooth and set aside.
- Heat the palm oil up in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the crayfish, fry for a minute or so. Add the onion mixture and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the egusi powder, and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring well.
- Turn down the heat and add the stock and water. Cook for about 20 minutes, uncovered, until the oil rises to the top of the pan.
- Add the meat, cover the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes, so that the meat absorbs the flavours of the soup. Adjust the seasoning.
- -3 minutes before serving, add the fresh prawns and spinach and cover the pot so they can steam to perfection. I turn the heat off after a minute or so, to ensure that they are not over-cooked.
- Serve with any fufu. Some people eat it with plain boiled rice, but it is not a habit I have managed to acquire.
Any leafy green vegetable may be used instead of spinach, such as bitter leaf or ugu (cooking times will vary).
Add a teaspoon of iru at the same time as the stock/water.