Egusi peppersoup: A fun way to enjoy spicy soup this season


The weather has been very cold lately. I love the rain even though it makes me want to stay in bed all day and do nothing but stuff my mouth with delicious food. My go-to comfort food for this season is peppersoup, chicken, assorted beef, catfish or goat meat peppersoup are all delicious variations. For me, sometimes, drinking peppersoup is not enough so I elevate it by adding other ingredients that I will show you how to.

I have a lot of food memories from Warri, Delta State and that is because I grew up there – that explains why I naturally feel like a blended Yoruba/Niger Delta babe. If you have not explored food from the southern part of Nigeria, you need to for the simple reason that the flavours are amazing and excitingly simple. I love simple recipes and this Egusi peppersoup also known as “Ovwoworikpogiri” by the Urhobos, is one of my favourite soups. Adding egusi (blended melon seeds) is one way to elevate Peppersoup.

We can prepare this soup in two ways: One, is by using pre-blended peppersoup spices which you can find packaged in supermarkets and local markets or, two, you can get the original spices and create your own blend. If you want to create your own blend you will need to find the following items:

Peppersoup spice blend
Iwo/Ehuru (10) (that’s what gives the pepper soup aroma)
Urheri /Uda (2) (you take out the seed and discard)
Umilo/Ulima (2)
Ataiko/Atariko 1/2 tsb (this looks similar to irugeje)
Irugeje (21/2 tsb)
These are the other ingredients you will be needing:
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Seasoning Cube
4 Habanero (Atarodo)
1 teaspoon Cameroon Pepper (Yellow Pepper)
3 Cups Water
Smoked Chicken (as much as you like)
Handful of Big Dried Shrimps
2 Smoked Panla Fish
3 Smoked Catfish
Boiled Beef and stock
1 Cup blended Melon Seeds (egusi)
2 Tablespoons Ground Crayfish
2 tablespoons of Peppersoup Spice (If you aren’t making your peppersoup blend from scratch).

How to prepare
In a pot add beef broth, beef, smoked chicken and add water enough to cook the soup. Add your ground spices- pepper, ataiko, irugeje, iwo, umilo, gbafilo, crayfish and de-seeded Urheri into the pot as well or the pre-made peppersoup spice.

Next add some chopped fresh pepper, also add some Cameroon pepper, big dried prawn and smoked panla fish.  Add seasoning cube (depending on how much used in the beef broth). Don’t forget to add salt for taste (I love using native salt for traditional soups like this but if you have normal salt, use it).

Cover the pot and allow to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. The flavour that engulfs the whole space is very warm and comforting especially in the cold rainy season.
For the melon, you should have it blended into a paste (with water) so that it results in a smooth texture. Next add blended melon to the pot already cooking and stir properly. Now you may need to add 2 cups of water or add more till you are satisfied with your consistency. Add crayfish now, and the smoked catfish.

Cover the pot and allow to cook for 25 minutes. I typically would cook my egusi for at least 30 minutes because I feel that is when the flavours really wake up, resulting in a very delicious experience. Taste for salt and allow to simmer.

You can serve Egusi Peppersoup with Eghwobobo, which is a starch and ripe plantain swallow or Eghwoeba which is a garri and ripe plantain swallow or alternatively, serve with plain old eba! If you have been avoiding egusi because you are on a healthy-eating journey, this is another way to eat it – oil less egusi- this soup is irresistible!



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