Top 4 Nigerian bitter leaf soup recipes: ingredients & cooking methods

Top 4 Nigerian bitter leaf soup recipes: ingredients & cooking methods

Nigerian bitter leaf soup, also known as "Ofe Onugbu", is a popular traditional soup highly cherished for its unique flavours. Learn to prepare these four Nigerian bitter leaf soups today.

Nigerian bitter leaf soup
Nigerian bitter leaf soup. Photo: @Research and Creative Kitchen (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Bitter leaf soup is typically served with a starchy side dish, such as fufu or pounded yam. These starchy accompaniments help balance the flavours of the soup. It's a favourite dish for many Nigerians and can be served on various occasions.

Top 4 Nigerian bitter leaf soup recipes

Nigerian bitter leaf soup is a delicious and culturally significant dish in Nigerian cuisine. Below is a list of the top 4 types of Nigerian bitter soup worth preparing.

1. Egusi soup recipe with bitter leaf

Egusi soup is a Nigerian soup with melon seeds enriched with spices and vegetables. It can be prepared with leafy vegetables, such as ugwu (fluted pumpkin leaves), bitter leaf, spinach and the like.

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Ingredients for bitter leaf soup

Here are the required ingredients if you need to make this soup.

For the egusi paste

  • 1 cup of ground egusi (melon seeds)
  • Water (for mixing)
  • Palm oil
  • Seasoning cubes or powder
  • Salt to taste

For the soup

  • Bitter leaves (washed and squeezed)
  • Assorted meats (beef, goat meat, tripe, etc.)
  • Stockfish and dry fish
  • Onions (chopped)
  • Ground crayfish
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Palm oil
  • Cocoyam paste (for thickening)
  • Seasonings (locust beans, ogiri or iru)
  • Salt to taste

How to cook egusi soup with bitter leaf

how to cook egusi soup with bitter leaf
Nigerian egusi soup. Photo: @Research and Creative Kitchen
Source: Facebook

Follow the steps below to prepare the soup.

  1. Combine the ground egusi with a little water to make a smooth paste in a bowl. Ensure there are no lumps. Set it aside.
  2. In a separate pot, cook the assorted meats and fish until tender. Season them with onions, seasonings, and salt. Set it aside.
  3. Peel and slice the cocoyam into small pieces. Cook them until they are soft and can be easily mashed. Mash the cooked cocoyam into a smooth paste. This will serve as a natural thickener for the soup. Set it aside.
  4. Heat palm oil in a large cooking pot until it becomes clear and slightly bleached.
  5. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they become translucent.
  6. Gradually add the egusi paste to the palm oil while stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir for about 5-10 minutes until the egusi is well incorporated into the oil.
  7. Gradually add water to the pot while stirring to create a thick, smooth egusi soup base. The amount of water you add will depend on your desired consistency.
  8. Season the soup with ground crayfish, pepper, locust beans, ogiri, and salt to taste. Adjust the seasonings to your preference.
  9. Add the mashed cocoyam paste to the soup and stir well. This will help thicken the soup further.
  10. Add the cooked assorted meats and fish to the pot and stir to combine them with the egusi soup base.
  11. Gently fold in the washed and squeezed bitter leaves into the soup.
  12. Allow the soup to simmer for a few more minutes until the bitter leaves are tender and well incorporated.
  13. Serve hot with fufu, pounded yam, or any other Nigerian staple.

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2. Cocoyam and bitter leaf soup

Bitter leaf soup is generally a very healthy and tasty Nigerian soup. It is delicious, thick and filled with numerous rich ingredients. You can cook this leaf soup with cocoyam, which is the thickener.


Here is a list of the ingredients you will need.

  • 1 Kilogram of meat (either goat or beef)
  • 3 tablespoons of ground crayfish
  • 4 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 2 cups of washed bitter leaf
  • 10 medium-sized cocoyam pieces
  • One stock fish head
  • 3 medium-sized smoked fish
  • Traditional seasoning ingredients (Ogiri/Okpei)
  • 20cl of palm oil
  • 1 large onion bulb
  • 3 seasoning cubes
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups of shelled periwinkles (optional)

How to cook bitter leaf soup with cocoyam

how to cook bitter leaf soup with cocoyam
Bitter leaf soup with cocoyam. Photo: @JanePinky
Source: Facebook

The preparation method is both simple and swift. Here are step-by-step instructions you can easily follow.

  1. Start by washing and seasoning the meat with onions, salt, pepper, and stock cube. Place the seasoned meat into a cooking pot and heat it for 15 minutes.
  2. While the meat is cooking, wash the stockfish and kpomo, then add them to the pot. Allow the contents to boil for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  3. If you need more soup, add water and extra seasonings to the meat to extract a rich stock. Once the meat is cooked, separate the meat and stockfish from the broth.
  4. Cut the cocoyam paste into smaller chunks with a spoon or flatten them with your fingers before adding them to the pot.
  5. After adding the cocoyam paste, add crayfish, onions, periwinkles, pepper, smoked fish, seasoning cubes, and okpe/ogiri to the pot. Let the soup simmer gently until the cocoyam paste completely dissolves and thickens the mixture.
  6. Add some cooked meat, the remaining palm oil, salt, and pepper to the pot, and let it simmer for 15 minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency.
  7. Once satisfied with the consistency, add the bitter leaf and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
  8. Serve your bitter leaf soup with cocoyam alongside pounded yam or semolina, according to your preference. It pairs wonderfully with these traditional swallows.

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3. Ogbono and bitter leaf soup

Preparing ogbono soup with bitter leaves is straightforward, resulting in a delicious, aromatic, and flavorful dish rich with assorted meats and fish. You can enjoy this soup with Nigerian staples like pounded yam, eba, poundo, fufu, and more.


For the ingredients, you will need the following:

  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of onions
  • 1 dried fish
  • 2 kilograms of assorted meat
  • 200 millilitres of red palm oil
  • 4 stock cubes
  • 1½ cups of stockfish fillets
  • 1 yellow habanero pepper
  • 1 cup of ground ogbono seeds
  • 2 pieces of ogiri okpei (local flavouring)
  • A handful of washed bitter leaves

How to cook ogbono soup with bitter leaf

how to cook ogbono soup with bitter leaf
Ogbono and bitter leaf soup. Photo: @Research and Creative Kitchen
Source: Facebook

Follow the steps below to prepare this delicious soup.

  1. Prepare a cooking pot and place it over a charcoal fire.
  2. Wash the meat thoroughly and add it to the pot.
  3. Include onions, enough water to cover the meat, pepper, salt, and two stock cubes.
  4. Stir the meat, cover the pot, and allow it to cook until tender.
  5. While the meat is cooking, lightly roast the two ogiri okpei, grind them and set them aside.
  6. Soak the dried fish and stockfish in hot water for a few minutes, then wash them thoroughly.
  7. Add the washed fish and stockfish to the pot with the meat, then continue cooking.
  8. Heat up the palm oil in a separate clean pot until it's slightly warm.
  9. Add the ground ogbono to the warm oil, stirring to dissolve it.
  10. Pour the dissolved ogbono into the pot with the meat and other ingredients.
  11. Add the remaining stock cubes, stir the soup, and introduce the ground ogiri okpei. Stir once more.
  12. Cover the pot and continue cooking until the ogbono soup thickens and becomes stretchy.
  13. Add the washed bitter leaves into the soup, stir, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  14. Remove the soup from the heat and serve it with your choice of accompaniments, such as pounded yam, eba, or fufu.

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4. Bitter leaf soup with achi

While making this soup, the achi powder is a thickening agent, giving the soup a hearty consistency. This flavourful soup is often served with fufu, pounded yam, or other traditional Nigerian staples.


Here are the ingredients you need to have to prepare this soup.

  • 2 cups of washed and chopped bitter leaves
  • 2 cups of assorted meats (beef, goat meat, tripe, etc.)
  • 1 cup of dried fish
  • 1/2 cup of crayfish (ground)
  • 1/4 cup of achi powder
  • 2 tablespoons of palm oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion (chopped)
  • 2-3 scotch bonnet peppers (chopped)
  • 2-3 stock cubes (seasoning cubes)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water

How to cook bitter leaf soup with achi

how to cook bitter leaf soup with achi
Bitter leaf soup with achi. Photo: @Yummy pastries
Source: Facebook

This is how to prepare this bitter-leaf soup with achi.

  1. Wash the assorted meats thoroughly and place them in a large cooking pot.
  2. Add water to cover the meats, chopped onions, scotch bonnet peppers, seasoning cubes, and salt. Cook until the meats are tender.
  3. Once the assorted meats are tender, add the washed and chopped bitter leaves to the pot. Allow them to simmer with the meats for about 5-10 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the achi powder with a small amount of water to form a smooth paste. Ensure there are no lumps.
  5. Add the achi paste to the cooking pot and stir it into the soup. This will thicken the soup and give it a smooth consistency. Simmer for a few more minutes while stirring to prevent lumps from forming.
  6. Add some heated palm oil to the soup and stir well.
  7. Add ground crayfish and the pieces of softened dried fish to the soup. Stir to combine.
  8. Allow the soup to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt or stock cubes if needed.
  9. Once the soup has thickened to your desired consistency and all the flavours have melded together, it's ready to serve.

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What are the benefits of bitter leaf soup?

The major benefits of bitter leaf soup are:

  • Help relieve abdominal issues.
  • The soup may help with weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
  • Bitter leaf soup is typically made with various meats and fish, providing essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • The bitter leaf itself is a good source of dietary fibre, which can aid in digestion.
  • Regular consumption of bitter leaf soup can give your immune system the boost it needs to function optimally.

Why is bitter leaf soup good for?

Bitter leaf soup is valued for its health benefits, which include being nutrient-rich in key vitamins and minerals, promoting digestive health, and aiding in weight loss.

What is bitter leaf soup made of?

The soup contains various ingredients such as bitter leaves, assorted meats, fish, achi or ofor, scotch bonnet peppers, seasoning cubes and other vegetables.

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How to remove bitterness from the bitter leaf soup?

You can minimise the soup's bitterness by adding spices and seasonings, such as stock cubes. You can also combine a few bitter leaves with other veggies like spinach.

Is it safe to eat bitter leaves dry?

Bitter leaves are typically used in cooking, and the bitterness is significantly reduced through various preparation methods, such as boiling and rinsing. Hence eating them dry may not be advisable.

These top 4 Nigerian bitter leaf soups recipes are easy to prepare and can be served any occasion. Despite its bitter taste, bitter leaf is renowned for its numerous health benefits. recently published an article on how to prepare various Igbo soups in Nigeria. Igbo food is known for its rich and diverse soups and stews.

Igbo soups are an integral part of the culture and are often enjoyed with staple foods like fufu, which can be made from cassava, yam, or plantains. Each soup has a unique flavour profile and ingredients, making Igbo cuisine a diverse and flavorful part of Nigerian culinary heritage.


Adrianna Simwa avatar

Adrianna Simwa (Lifestyle writer) Adrianna Simwa is a content writer at where she has worked since mid-2022. She has written for many periodicals on a variety of subjects, including news, celebrities, and lifestyle, for more than three years. She has worked for The Hoth, The Standard Group and Triple P Media. Adrianna graduated from Nairobi University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in 2020. In 2023, Simwa finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. You can reach her through her email:

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