Legendary Dishes | Pepper Soup (aromatic spiced soup)

NIGERIA

The pepper soups of Nigeria include assorted meat pepper soup, beef pepper soup, catfish pepper soup, chicken pepper soup, cowfoot pepper soup, fish pepper soup, goat pepper soup, offal pepper soup and turkey pepper soup.

Writing in the Herald in 2020, Tofunmi hailed the health benefits of pepper soup. ‘For people who lack appetite or are in the process of recovering from an illness, taking the soup is effective. The peppers and spices like ginger and garlic used contain nutrients that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which assist in combating inflammation and fighting off harmful bacteria in the body. It also improves the immune system strength.’

The essential spices are atariko seeds / ulima seeds (aka aligator pepper), ehuru (aka calabash nutmeg), uda (aka negro pepper) and uziza seeds. These are commercially available as peppersoup spice. Because uziza seeds are very pepperish, cooks who want to achieve a soup with an intense depth of pepper flavour add more in addition to the peppersoup mixture. Other cooks achieve this with black peppercorns, fresh ground, added near the end of cooking.

Crayfish powder is also an essential ingredient, but it has a high salt content. Dried shrimps pounded into a powder are a relatively salt-free alternative.

Red chillies – especially the scotch bonnet variety – add a pugent flavour to the soup whereas powdered red chillies will also add colour.

Beef

  • 1 kg beef, rib meat / shoulder meat, cut into large chunks
  • 1 litre water
  • 300 g onion, chopped
  • 3 cm ginger root, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp peppersoup spice
  • 30 g dried onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lemon grass stalk
  • 15 g black pepper
  • 2 tsp crayfish powder
  • 3 tbsp basil leaves and stalks, chopped
  • 3 tbsp utazi leaves, dried, chopped
  • 2 scotch bonnet chillies, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder

Arrange all the ingredients except the meat, lemon grass and water in a large pot. Fold the meat into the mixture, pour in the water, add the lemon grass stalk.

Cook at the lowest possible heat for 12 hours.

Remove the lemon grass stalk.

Serve with boiled plantain, rice or yam.

Fish

  • 1.5 kg white fish, whole fillets
  • 1.5 litres fish stock
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 50 g dried onions
  • 3 tbsp peppersoup spice
  • 1 cm ginger root, mashed
  • 1 tbsp utazi leaves, dried, chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp crayfish powder
  • Uziza seeds, large pinch

Pour the fish stock into a large pot, add the crayfish powder, dried onion, garlic, ginger, peppersoup spice, red chilli powder and uziza seeds, cook over a medium heat for an hour.

Add the fish fillets and utazi leaves. Do not stir. Instead shake the pot to distribute the ingredients.

Cook until the fillets are done, about 15 minutes.

Goat

  • 1.5 litres meat stock
  • 1 kg goat on the bone, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp peppersoup spice, ground
  • 30 g dried onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 30 g root ginger
  • 1 lemon grass stalk
  • 1 tbsp crayfish, ground
  • 1 tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped
  • 1 tbsp utazi leaves, dried, chopped
  • 2 scotch bonnet chillies
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 g uziza seeds

Pound the chilli, garlic and ginger into a paste.

Place the goat meat in a saucepan, add crayfish powder, lemon grass stalk, onions, spices, chilli-garlic-ginger paste an stock.

Bring to a low boil. Turn heat low, simmer for 6 hours.

At 15 minutes before the end of cooking, add the parsley and utazi leaves.

Remove the lemon grass stalk.