Igbo kitchen: how to make a proper Onugbu soup

Ofe Onugbu is commonly known as onugbu soup which means bitter leaf soup.

Igbo kitchen: how to make a proper Onugbu soup (Bitter leaf soup)

If you're Igbo or interested in Igbo culture, you're probably familiar with this popular and tasty soup. It's a soup that must be present at any Igbo occasion.

Ofe onugbu as it is known among Igbos, is a classic Nigerian dish. It's a favorite among people from the country's eastern regions, particularly Anambra State.

Let us discuss the unique elements that distinguish this soup from other Igbo soups;

1. The Leaf

The bitter leaf is used to make onugbu soup. This bitter leaf is cultivated throughout Nigeria, and as the name suggests, it is an extremely bitter leaf that requires thorough washing and squeezing before it can be used in cooking. The bitterness must be washed out before adding it to the soup. There's an old Igbo traditional notion that says a good cook can be identified by the flavor of the bitter leaf.

Despite the extensive washing and squeezing to remove the bitterness, many non-Igbos still refer to onugbu soup as very bitter soup. Nevertheless, onugbu soup is a very healthful and therapeutic soup.

2. Ogili Igbo

This is the most important spice to add while making onugbu soup because it gives it its flavor. Ogili is a paste made from fermented oil seeds (castor and melon seeds). It is noted for its strong aroma, which makes it an excellent addition to dishes like onugbu soup, oha soup, and abacha. Fibre and protein are abundant in Ogili Igbo. As a result, it's incredibly nutritious.

3. Ede (cocoyam)

After being washed and boiled, the cocoyam is pounded and added to the simmering soup. The cocoyam is important because it thickens the broth. Cocoyam also contains Vitamin B1, which helps with blood pressure, muscle cramping, and memory loss.

Meat, fish, shrimp, and snails are used to make a hearty onugbu soup. Any Anambra ceremony would be incomplete without this soup on the menu.

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