Known to the Ibos as ofe nsala, and to the Efiks as afia efere, white soup is a very tasty Nigerian soup that's common in many homes. I remember my first taste of white soup way back during my Youth Corper days. We were contemplating what delicacy to make for the food competition to be held during the bonfire night. As my fellow Platoon members clamoured for ofe nsala, I wondered to myself what kind of soup it was.
On making enquiries, I was told it's regarded as White soup because of the absence of palm oil. The soup looked more like pepper soup to me, but for the addition of cocoyam as a thickener. Nonetheless, this flavourful soup was obviously loved by the Judges; it did win us the competition!
Years later, a wonderful friend and colleague treated me to a sumptuous meal of white soup and pounded yam. Cooked with soft-fry chicken, Aidan fruits/Uyayak (the Efik way) and thickened with yam, I knew I was totally hooked just after the first bite. And then recently, an Ibo sister of mine came visiting and as a way of saying "thank you", made me a pot of ofe nsala.
If you ask me, either as ofe nsala or afia efere, white soup certainly keeps me licking my fingers and wanting more each time I taste it. I eventually got to make it myself and trust me; it has since become a favourite in my home.
White Soup Preparation
Here's my version:
- Meat (Beef or Goat meat)
- 1 Fresh Catfish
- Smoked/ dried fish
- 3 Slices of yam (cooked and mashed into fine paste)
- A handful of Uziza leaves (I often replace this with scent leaves)
- 1 Tbsp locust beans
- 1 Tbsp Ground Crayfish
- 8-10 pieces of fresh scotch bonnet (qty can be reduced as required)
- 1 Tbsp Peppersoup spice
- Salt and seasoning cubes to taste
Season and cook meat till tender.
While the meat cooks, pulse fresh pepper and onions in a blender then set aside. ***I love my pepper not entirely smooth in my soup so I prefer to grate or pulse.
Add the washed catfish, grated pepper, crayfish, iru and pepper soup spice into the pot of boiling meat. Stir well (you might not be able to combine thoroughly again after this initial stirring so as not to break the fish) and leave to cook for about 20 minutes.
Check for salt, and add in the yam paste bit by bit. When you have it all in the pot, cover the pot firmly then lift it by both side handles and shake gently. At this point, you may want to add a little more water so that the soup doesn't get too thick as it thickens with the yam. Now add your leaves (uziza or scent leaves). Leave to boil on medium heat till yam is well blended and cooked.