- Bitter Leaf1/2 to 3/4 CupsChopped, thoroughly washed as many times as possible and squeezed to get rid of the bitterness. If you will be buying already washed and squeezed leaves from the market, still wash and squeeze the leaves again. For good measure, you can boil the leaves in plain water first then wash and squeeze thoroughly as many times as possible. It is important to get rid of as much bitterness as you can otherwise your soup will turn out more bitter than it really should. This soup may be called bitter leaf soup but the end result shouldn't actually be bitter
- Palm Oil3 Cooking SpoonsI used about 3/4 cup
- Cocoyam7 PiecesFor thickening. I used the one typically used in thickening soups. They are usually smaller than the regular cocoyam. It is also white and not pink/purple. See third picture above for what it looks like. Actual quantity depends on how thick you want the soup to be. If you are using larger sized cocoyam, about 3 to 4 pieces should be enough
- Ogiri Okpei2 1/2 TeaspoonsDifferent from iru (fermented locust bean). See third picture above for what it looks like. It has a naturally awful smell so take note. It is called fermented castor oil seeds in english
- Red Chilli Pepper1 PiecesLocally called shombo. Finely chopped or blended
- MeatAny QuantityAny type; beef, tripe (shaki)...or you can skip the meat and use fish instead
- StockfishAny QuantityWash and soak in hot water for a few minutes
- Dried FishAny QuantityWash and soak first in hot water to soften. Don't forget to debone
- Dried ShrimpAny QuantityLocally called oporo
- Ground Crayfish3 to 4 Tablespoons
- Chilli Powder1 TeaspoonsGround pepper
- Onion1 Small PiecesChopped
- Meat StockAt least 3 to 4 CupsActual quantity depends on how much soup you are making.
- Salt and Maggi Seasoning CubesTo taste
How to make Bitter Leaf Soup
Step 1. Wash the cocoyams, add water to a pot, add in the cocoyams (don’t peel!) and boil the cocoyams until they are done. You will know it is done when a knife easily goes through and the peel comes off easily.
Step 2. Once it is cooked, peel off the skin, put it in a blender, add enough water to get the blades rolling(use hot water to blend) and blend until you get a smooth and lump free paste. Set the paste aside. It will be used to thicken the soup later.
***If you cannot use a blender, do it the old fashioned way using a mortar and pestle. Pound the cocoyam until it is smooth but be sure to add some hot water when pounding so you get a smooth, lump free, soft paste that will easily dissolve in the soup.
Step 3. Wash the meat, add water to a pot, add the meat, season with salt and seasoning cubes to taste, a little chopped onions, garlic powder (optional) and chilli powder (ground pepper). Boil the meat until it is almost tender. Be sure to add enough salt and seasoning cubes to taste because you want the stock to be as tasty as possible. This is what you will be using to make the soup.
Step 4. When the meat is almost done, add in the stockfish and dried fish and cook until tender.
Step 5. The quantity of stock in the pot should be at least 4 cups. Actual quantity depends on how much soup you are making but be sure to have enough stock in the pot. Add in the palm oil, stir and cook for about 3 minutes, then add in the ground crayfish, chopped pepper, chilli powder.
Step 6. Stir, and cook for about 5 minutes so the palm oil will combine well with the stock and the palm oil will lose its raw taste.
Step 7. Add in the ogiri, cook for about 3 minutes or until it dissolves then add all the cocoyam paste. Add it in batches and stir in the ones you have added, do this until you have added everything.
Step 8. Stir the soup continuously so the cocoyam paste will dissolve completely in the soup.
Step 9. Taste for salt and cook until the paste has completely dissolve and the soup has thickened.
***Generally, bitter leaf soup isn’t supposed to be watery like pepper soup. It should be a little thick and that’s what the cocoyam paste is for. If peradventure yours is on the watery side and you don’t have any cocoyam paste left, just use a little flour or corn flour to thicken. It may not sit well traditionally to use flour to thicken the soup but it’s a good last resort and it won’t affect the taste of your soup. Just put a few tablespoons of flour in a bowl, add a cooking spoon of your soup to the flour, mix both until the flour is completely dissolved then pour everything inside the soup, give it a good stir and let it simmer for a few minutes. The soup should thicken quite nicely after this.
Step 9. Add the bitter leaves. First add in a handful of the chopped bitter leaf and stir into the soup. If that’s enough for you, don’t add more. If you want more leaves in the soup, feel free to add more.
Step 10. Stir and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. It is best to not let the vegetable cook for too long so it retains its nutrients.
Step 11. Switch off the burner, let the soup sit on the burner for an extra 5 minutes. Make sure the pot is covered.
Done. Your Bitter Leaf soup is ready. Serve with any swallow of choice.