Bitterleaf soup is one of the most traditional soups in Nigeria. It is native to the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria. The name is quite misleading in that a well prepared Bitterleaf Soup should not have even the faintest bitterness. This is achieved by washing and squeezing the bitter leaves (and changing the water at intervals) till all traces of bitterness has been washed off.
• Washed and squeezed bitterleaf – A handful
• Cocoyam – 10 small corms
• Red Palm Oil – 2 cooking spoons (You may need a bit more)
• Assorted Beef – Includes best cut, shaki (cow tripe)
• Assorted Fish – Dry Fish and Stock Fish
• Pepper, Salt and Ground Crayfish (to taste)
• Seasoning – 3 Maggi or Knorr cubes
• Traditional Seasoning: Iru or Ogiri – 1 teaspoon
1. Make sure that the bitter leaves are well washed, such that there is no trace of bitterness left. If not, wash and squeeze it more. If the bitterness cannot be completely washed off (which is usually the case with most washed bitter leaves sold in the market), boil it for about 15 minutes and wash in cold water.
2. Wash and cook the cocoyam till soft. Remove the peels and use a mortar and pestle to pound the corms to a smooth paste (as shown).
3. Boil the shaki (cow tripe), stock fish and dry fish in 1 litre of water till they are well done. First sign of a done shaki is that the cuts will start curling on itself.
4. Wash the beef and add to the pot of shaki etc. and continue cooking. When the meat is done, add 3 cubes of Maggi/Knorr and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add pepper, ground crayfish, bitter leaves (if they have not been parboiled) and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the cocoyam paste (in small lumps) and the palm oil then go to step 5. Note: If the bitter leaves were parboiled to remove the bitterness, then for step 3; add pepper, ground crayfish, the cocoyam paste (in small lumps), the bitter leaves and the palm oil. In other words, add all the ingredients at this stage.
6. Cover the pot and leave to cook on high heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved. You can add more water if you feel that the soup is too thick.
7. Add salt to taste and the soup is ready