There aren’t many Nigerian soups as popular as Egusi soup in most Nigerian households both home and abroad.
Soups have a very strong tradition in West Africa, and one of the most popular in Nigeria, especially in the southern half of the country, is the nourishing and easy to make Egusi soup.
Egusi actually lends its name to the seeds of the Cucurbitaceae plant family which consists of melons, gourd, and individual crops such as cucumbers.
However, in Nigerian cuisine the seeds are normally obtained from a melon, and melon soup is an alternative name for this dish.
If melon seeds are unavailable then pumpkin or pepitas seeds will be fine. The seeds are also very versatile as they can be used in a number of different dishes including stews and making puddings.
When preparing the soup the seeds are grounded to add thickness, and they add a distinctive milky-white colour very rich in protein.
This soup can be eaten with or without vegetables, and with either fish or meat, or both. It is also common to be eaten with pounded yam, foufou/fufu or ground rice.
In most cases, Egusi soup’s ingredients entirely depend on the taste of the household as some people prefer to prepare the soup without vegetables and extra supplements like fish, meat or crayfish, while others can’t do without them.
Beef stew meat (or any other stew meat cubed)
Cod or haddock (pre-soaked/optional)
Fresh peppers chopped
Large onion chopped
Tablespoons of salt
Small can of tomato sauce
Cup of dried crayfish
Cups of grounded Egusi seed
Half cup of olive or vegetable oil
3 or 4
1 or 2
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Fry the meat until brown, but not overdone. Transfer the meat into a pot and cover with water and add one or two stock cubes (optional). Bring to the boil and place on a low heat to simmer.
In the same frying pan in which the meat was cooked, add the fresh chopped tomatoes, fresh chopped peppers and cod or haddock. When everything is tender, add one small can of tomato sauce, 2 cups of grounded Egusi seed, 1 cup dried crayfish. Stir well and allow to heat through.
Add the Egusi/tomato and other ingredients to the simmering meat. Add two cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt and stir into a hearty soup. Cook for a further twenty to twenty-five minutes, until meat and vegetables are done.
Add seasoning if required.