Posts tagged white soup
Chef KD Prime: Making Sexy Oha Soup

As a chef, I pride myself on having a wide repertoire of dishes up my sleeve. I can comfortably recreate plates from a wide array of countries and cultures.  That said, I feel a certain pride in being able to cook several Nigerian Soups and Stews. There’s this “sexy” thing to Nigerian soups that I can’t quite explain. I was cooking a pot of Afang soup a few weeks ago when it dawned on me.

As a Yoruba man, I grew up with our staples - Stew, Plain Akpon (Ogbonno), Ewedu, Plain Okra, Efo Riro and Efo Elegusi. It wasn’t until I moved to Port Harcourt many years ago that my eyes (and taste buds) opened to the variety of dishes that our beautiful Nigeria has to offer. Port Harcourt introduced me to luscious soups like Afang, Ogbonno, Draw, Rivers Native, Oha, Bitter Leaf, White Soup, Black Soup, Abak, Groundnut, humble Pepper Soup and my personal favorite Banga.

The sexiness of our soups is not just from the inviting aroma. Visually, they can be absolutely stunning.


"Well-made Efo-Riro has the vividness of the palm oil coupled with the lure of all the cuts of meat and the striking green from the spinach leaves"

 Or let’s take a luxurious soup like Banga. When I think of the redness of the oil, the flecks of leaves from the native spices and then the star of the show is the meat, which can be anything from dried fish, bush meat, fresh fish, cow tail, cow leg, goat meat, snail and anything else your wallet or desire leads you to. In my opinion, Banga Soup is the epitome of comfort food.

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Nigerian soups are interesting in that you can often tell the socio-economic status of the "preparer" from the appearance and ingredients in the dish.

I take a particular delight in cooking Nigerian soups because there are so many techniques, ingredients and flavors at your disposal that you can basically “engineer” your soup to any direction you desire.

Cooking a Nigerian soup is such a deliberate process. With my Oha Soup, for example, I start out with a foundation of a well-flavored stock (fish, chicken or beef).  Then, I go to work on building the structure of the soup by adding sliced kanda (pomo), dried fish flakes and stock fish flakes to the simmering stock.  When the flavors start to develop, I add my pepper blend.  The pepper blend is what gets the proceedings underway.  I like to blend fresh yellow peppers with onions.  The yellow peppers are quite fierce but they mellow out as the process builds up.

Very meticulous, you see.

The science of it all is such an underrated aspect of the Nigerian soup.

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At this point, I can now start adding funkiness to the mix. The funk comes in the form of ground crayfish and ground Cameroon Pepper. The crayfish build on the flavor of the dried fish and stock fish but also adds a taste that I can only compare to the smell you get when you are at the waterside. It gives it a very “Native” taste.  The Cameroon pepper adds a distinctive smokiness and it enforces the heat/spiciness of the soup. So, while the fresh pepper is mellowing out, the Cameroon pepper is reminding it where its roots came from.

Now for the meat. I usually pre-cook either cow shin, cow-tail, cow tongue and/or tozo (beef brisket) for my Oha Soup. I feel the texture and flavor of the beef lends itself very well to the velvetiness of Oha Soup. Also, the stock is what I use as the base for the soup. I tend to cut my meat fairly large (my Lagosian roots). A large soft piece of beef is incredibly inviting and satisfying at the same time.

After adding the meat to the show, I start to prepare the thickener (so the meat does not get too soft).  I like to use Ofo as a thickener. Some of you will argue that Coco Yam is better but I prefer Ofo. I mix the Ofo in a separate container with some palm oil to avoid lumpy uncooked Ofo in the soup.  Once mixed, I cut the heat on the Soup and add the Ofo mix. For me, this stage is very emotional. Once the Ofo starts to thicken the soup; the sound and look of the soup will start to change.

The sound goes from a rapid boiling note to a deeper base note that tells you to start getting ready for the goodness.

Now the look is where the sexiness comes from. Once the soup is thickened, it gains a romantic sheen to it and the thickness changes the flow of the soup. The flow is very key for me because the thick flow beckons you to sit down and get into it. Also, because the soup is now thick, it sexily coats all of your meat pieces so every bite is “Soupified” as well.

Once the soup has sufficiently thickened, I add my washed Oha Leaves and serve almost immediately. I particularly like Oha leaves because they are so unassuming but once you bite into them they are so succulent and fresh tasting all at the same time.

If my Oha recipe doesn’t convince you of the sexiness of our soups, I don’t know what will.  As I am typing these words, my mouth is watering.

Thanks for reading. I’m off to cook!

Chef KD Prime is a self-taught chef with a wide repertoire – Italian, Russian, Chinese, French, Thai, Vietnamese, Classic American, the almighty Nigerian, and other cuisines

From Nyanya to Wuse: A White Soup Love Story

If you are a Nigerian and you haven't heard of white soup, then I feel it is my duty as a moral being to kindly ask you to step out from under your rock because a wonderful world awaits. Called Afia Efere by the Efik and Ofe Nsala by the Igbo, white soup isn't actually white at all.

Crazy, I know.

I still remember the first time I tasted white soup, not vividly, my mind has paid time’s toll and blurred those precious memories. So, I do not remember if the sky was sunny that day or if birds flew about chirping and cooing in joyful abandon. What I do remember, clear as though it was just yesterday, was the unexpected feeling of pure joy as I, sitting in the cafeteria of the old NAFDAC office in Garki, tasted white soup for the first time. I never did eat in that cafeteria again. NAFDAC moved the next month and the cafeteria cook has probably moved on to hopefully better things.

A couple years later, older and with a more discerning palette, I had decided to find out if my childhood memories had indeed exaggerated the appeal of white soup. Nostalgia is a funny thing. Sure, it makes us more human, but there’s always that thing where what you really liked as a child isn’t any good. And that, can be heartbreaking.

The first problem I had to overcome was locating the right spot. I couldn't just taste any ol' white soup and pass judgement on white soup in general. They say you must kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, but I’m not interested in kissing any frogs. The odds of a bad white soup experience had to be next to zero. So, with my ears to the ground and a lot of asking around, I narrowed down my options to two spots: one in the semi-urban enclaves of Nyanya, and the other in Wuse, Abuja’s apparent commercial heart.

The first spot was located precisely in "Abacha Road", an unfortunately named small town nestled between Mararaba, Karu and Nyanya. It was a small dingy looking restaurant named Calabar Kitchen. At first glance, it was terribly disappointing to be honest. From the rickety looking plastic chairs carelessly arranged around equally rickety looking tables, to the general unhygienic look and aura of the place.

I didn't have white soup that day.

Not because the place scared me off, I've been to worse. No, it was simply because that they were out of white soup already. Three more times I went and three more times I left disappointed. Fed up, I decided to give Wuse a shot.

Kool Kitchen, located in Wuse Zone 3, was a nondescript joint with plain and simple decorations. The aroma, however, told another story - one of great promise. The bowl of white soup and the accompanying plate of pounded yam placed before me was a marvel to behold. The simmering bowl of soup was rich with diced chicken pieces, which all had a nice golden glaze.

Each mouthful was a fiesta of flavours.  The chicken was just the right amount of chewy and the accompanying pounded yam was perfection. Silky smooth with a little bit of stretch to it, the pounded yam was everything pounded yam should be. The broth was a bit of a letdown, it was silent throughout the whole meal and adding nothing to the experience. All in, it was a great meal, but it had failed to blow my mind.

Not ready to give up, I decided to give Calabar Kitchen one more try. The first thing that hit me was the very generous serving of soup. This time, I went with goat meat over chicken in the hopes that the goat meat would bring better luck. The goat meat was divine and rich in flavor, lacking the characteristic toughness associated with goat meat. The real trump card here was the broth. It was thick with assorted ingredients and contained a host of flavors, which against all odds complemented each other.


The white soup at Calabar Kitchen was thankfully a lot closer to my childhood memories and it rekindled the flames of my long-lost love. The little boy in me felt validated.

Maybe nostalgia isn’t so bad after all.

Fori Joseph is a part-time conspiracy theorist, who spends most of his time reading fantasy books and then criticizing them.