Fish pepper soup is a warm and soothing West African soup, simmered in a flavorful, spicy broth made up of catfish, vegetables, and spices. It is so healthy, nourishing, and satisfying!
In Nigeria, no party is complete without pepper soup. You can make it as complex or as simple as you want, but the flavor is what hooks you.
It makes a perfect light meal at home and you can eat it any time of the day, it doesn’t matter if the weather is hot or cold. If you’re sick or feel a cold coming on, pepper soup works wonders to make you feel better in no time.
It is made using a range of spices with complex but warm and earthy flavors. It is quite spicy but very soothing.
Fish pepper soup is one of those dishes that the first time you taste it, you’ll keep trying to guess what flavors make up this mouthwatering and hearty soup.
- Catfish: I use about two pounds of catfish which is roughly the size of a large catfish. I like to buy my fish from Asian or Mexican stores in the U.S because it is cleaned out and gutted.
- Spices: I make this recipe using cayenne pepper, bouillon powder, smoked paprika, ground crayfish, salt, and a unique blend of African spices. This spice blend is made of spices commonly found in West Africa but in this post, I give an alternative method on how to make it using ingredients commonly found in grocery stores. If you don’t have ground crayfish on hand, you can substitute with coconut aminos.
- Vegetables: Habanero pepper and basil leaf. Habanero pepper gives a lot of heat to this fish pepper soup so it lives up to its name. Basil leaf lends a minty, slightly sweet flavor to this soup and completely transforms it. In Nigeria, the basil leaf variety commonly used in pepper soup is known as Scent leaf.
To start, boil some water on the stove. If the fish isn’t cleaned out, you will have to gut it and clean it out yourself. Thoroughly clean the inside and outside with lime or lemon to get rid of the sliminess.
Chop the habanero pepper into tiny pieces. Also, loosely chop the basil leaves and set aside.
Cut the fish into medium-sized pieces. When the hot water boils, pour it over the fish and leave for about 30 seconds.
Catfish is quite notorious for completely breaking apart when cooked for long periods but doing this will help toughen the skin so that it can withstand prolonged cooking which is essential for this pepper soup.
Drain out the hot water, rinse under the tap, and place in a pot. Add about 6 cups of water or until the fish is completely submerged. Add the bouillon powder and bring to a boil.
When the soup starts to boil, add in the rest of the spices and the chopped habanero pepper and let simmer for about 20 more minutes on medium heat.
The spices will begin to blend together and create a wonderful fusion of spicy and musky aromatic flavors, which will be completely absorbed by the catfish.