Egusi Soup is a rich and savory West African soup made with ground melon seeds and eaten with fufu dishes. It makes a wonderful and satisfying low carb dinner!
Egusi soup has a wonderful complex flavor and is made with traditional West African ingredients and spices. It is a very thick soup, and is actually more of a stew, as you can also eat it with rice or other dishes.
Egusi is made from melon seeds that grow primarily in the warm regions of Africa. It is composed of about 50% healthy fats and 30% protein, which makes it perfect for a low carb diet.
Egusi seeds are also packed full of healthy nutrients like Vitamins A, B1, B2, and C.
Egusi is also known as Elegusi or Agushi, depending on what part of Nigeria you are from.
- Egusi seeds: Egusi (melon seeds) are usually sold in African stores. I use roughly 2 cups for this recipe.
- Meat: African soups are mostly cooked with an assortment of meat like beef, goat meat, cow feet, or tripe (shaki). For this recipe, I use goat meat and cow feet but you can really add any type of meat you want to.
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, habanero peppers, and spinach. The traditional Egusi soup is made with scotch bonnet peppers but if you’re in the U.S, habanero peppers make a great substitute.
- Palm Oil: Palm oil gives a rich, traditional taste to this soup but you can use olive oil if that is what you have on hand.
- Smoked catfish: This is made from catfish that has been dried and smoked and is used to flavor a lot of Nigerian dishes. It gives a really unique traditional taste and flavor. You can omit this if you don’t have any.
- Spices: For Egusi soup, I use ground crayfish, salt, cayenne pepper, and bouillon (Maggi cubes). I also use black pepper to boil the meat.
- Broth/Stock: You can use water if you have none but you will need to add more spices.
Egusi seeds are usually blended before cooking and this can be easily done using a food processor, nutribullet blender, or coffee grinder.
You do not add water when blending, but as you blend you would notice the consistency changes to a somewhat powdery paste. You can buy the actual seeds or buy them pre-ground.
Start by prepping the vegetables, meat, and dried smoked catfish.
Prepare the meat: Boil the meat you want to use. I used goat meat and cow feet. You can use any beef of choice. To use goat meat or beef, add the meat to the pot and add just enough water to cover it.
Add about a tablespoon of salt and black pepper and boil for 30-40 minutes till the meat is tender.
Prepare the dried smoked catfish: Soak the dried catfish in hot water for about 10 minutes and break into small pieces. Remove as many pieces of bones as you can and rinse under running water.
Prepare the vegetables: Blend the tomatoes, bell pepper, and habanero peppers using a food processor with minimal water added.
If the blended mixture looks watery, pour it into a bot and let it boil for about 10 minutes, until it becomes a bit thicker.
Chop the onions and spinach and set aside.
Cook the Egusi soup: Add palm oil to a pot on medium heat. When it gets hot, add the chopped onions.
Add the blended tomato, bell pepper, and habanero pepper to the palm oil and stir for a few minutes.
Then add your smoked fish and let cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Add the meat and broth if you have some on hand, if not just add water. When it boils, add your ground egusi seeds and stir.
At this point, different tribes in Nigeria have their own spin on how to add the Egusi seeds. The Yorubas like to chop onions, mix with the egusi, and form balls, before adding it.
I didn’t use onions but I just formed balls and placed them into the mixture. Stir a few minutes carefully and slowly and let simmer on medium heat.
Add the goat meat and cow feet or whatever meat you have on hand. Add ground crayfish, salt, pepper, and bouillon powder. Let sit for another 10 minutes on medium-high heat.
Lastly, add the chopped spinach. I use fresh spinach here but you can also use frozen.
The spinach should be added at the end because you don’t want it to overcook and become wilted in the soup. Leave on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
I make different versions, sometimes with a lot of leafy greens and sometimes barely any, depending on my mood or what I have available in the house. It still comes out tasting great!