For some of you who have been requesting how to make egusi soup, here we are. Egusi soup is one of the popular soups in Nigeria, it cut across many tribes in the country. It is a soup that unites all culture together; this has made it difficult to discover the origin of the soup.
Egusi soup is accepted and eaten by the Igbos (southeastern region), the Efiks (South-south region), the Hausa (Northern region) other tribe includes Edo, Etsako,Esan.
Yoruba people love to eat egusi soup and pounded yam. It is quite popular in Osun state especially with the Ijesha people because they eat ‘pounded yam (Iyan) with egusi soup’ has their traditional food. In Yoruba land, it is called ‘Obe efo elegusi’ the igbos call it Ofe Egusi
Egusi,(which is also known as agushi by some other variants). It is the name of the fat and protein-rich seeds of some cucurbits family (melon, gourd, squash), which is used as the main ingredient in making the soup after it has been grounded.
It is not only grown and eaten in Nigeria; it is also grown and eaten in other West African countries. In fact, the best egusi seeds are grown in countries like Burkina faso, Mali, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun and Nigeria.
Egusi soup is a thickened soup made with the ground seeds of melon seed, oil, seasonings, dry fish, stock -fish, blended pepper mix, meats and some people add vegetables to it.
Egusi melon plants closely bear a resemblance to watermelon plants (watermelon plant is bigger than egusi melon); both plant have a non-climbing creeping pattern and the leaves also look very similar. The fleshy tissue of the watermelon is sweet and edible while the Egusi fleshy tissue is bitter and inedible.
Egusi seeds are longer than watermelon seeds, and its color is lighter than the seed of watermelon. The recommended planting time for egusi in Nigeria is in the month of May.
Development (the emergence of the plant) occurs in 4-7 days. After four weeks of planting, flowering takes place and the vines starts forming a nearly whole ground cover.
It is best to plant on fertile humus rich loose soil. Melon can tolerate dry to wet growing situations but the fruits only mature in dry conditions after 4-5 months after sowing.
When the husk of the seed has been removed the seed can be roasted for eating. When the roasted seed are pounded it pastes looks like peanut butter which can be spread on bread, it can be mixed with foods like eggplant or kola nut. It is also added to stew and soups. This blended mixture can be used effectively as a supplement for infant food.
Egusi seeds have roughly 50% oil and 30% protein. They are very good sources of vitamin B1, B2 and niacin, it also amino acids arginine, methionine and tryptophan. Tryptophan. Minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and manganese is also well represented in it.
The oil of the melon seed can be extracted for the use of cooking; the deposit after the extraction of the oil may be grinded into a meal that can be substituted for meat patties or a powder which can be used as a base for soup. The tender leaves of melon can be used for cooking or as a pot herb.
Egusi is a very nutritious soup, though some people try to avoid it because it contains fat, but aside from the fat content it has other health benefits. Lets’ discuss the health benefits so that we can have reasons to eat it. The following are the reasons we should eat egusi:
- It makes the skin glow: vitamins like vitamin E and other vitamins present in melon helps in making the skin glow and helping it to stay healthy. Most of the vitamins contained in egusi are mostly used for the production soap. The presence of alpha-tocopherol (Which acts as an oxidant and also vitamin E) helps to reduce wrinkles, dry skin, prevents ageing etc.
- It helps to aid digestion: Melon contains dietary fibre which is very good at aiding digestion in the body. This hereby prevents any form of constipation or any other type of digestive disorder.
- It helps to improve the eye sight: Egusi is a good source of vitamin A as well as the oil, which helps to improve our eye sight.
- It helps to improve appetite: The presence of some vitamins in melon seed gives excellent benefits to the human body. Vitamins such as vitamin B1 and vitamin B2 allow the fats and oil in the body to go through the process of metabolism and are also good for improving appetite.
- It gives strong bones: The presence of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus in egusi helps to improve bone tissues and alleviate any bone diseases or disorder.
I hope with this few health benefits points, that you will start cooking egusi soup.
How to make Egusi Soup
There are different ways of cooking egusi soup; there is no one way to it.It is even better to try different ways in order to have different taste of egusi soup anytime you prepare it.
The popular ways of preparing egusi soup are:
- Egusi soup prepared without vegetables( This very common among the Ijebus of Yoruba land)
- Egusi soup prepared with vegetables ( ugu, bitter leaf, water leaf,uziza)
- Frying the grounded egusi seeds in palm oil at the beginning of your cooking
- The boiling method: It involves boiling everything going into the egusi soup including the egusi itself till the end of your cooking (You have to start with boiling of your meats first).
- 1 cup ground Egusi seeds
- Assorted meat of your choice
- Cow skin(ponmo)
- Dried fish
- Stock fish
- ½ bunch of vegetable ( I prefer uziza because of the scent and taste it the egusi soup)
- Blended mix of pepper (tomatoes, scotch bonnet, and sweet pepper)
- ½ cup of palm oil
- Locust bean (iru)
- 2 tsp of ground crayfish
- 2 chicken/crayfish seasoning cubes
- Salt to taste
DIRECTIONS OF COOKING
- Blend your egusi seeds until smooth.
- Put it in a small bowl and liquefy with just little water to form a paste. It is not compulsory you dissolve your egusi with water but it helps to prevent your egusi from burning while frying.
Slice your vegetables into strips and dice your onions and set aside
- Wash your assorted meat and ponmo and season it, add diced onions, one seasoning cube, and salt and also add stock fish. Cook it till it is very tender and keep your meat stock because you will still need it.
- Heat up the palm oil in a pot until hot to some extent, add the diced onions (fry till translucent) then add in your iru and fry for some seconds, then add in your liquefied melon paste and fry, and stir continuously until the egusi begins to thicken.
- Fry your egusi for about 10 – 15 minutes or when you notice a rise in the oil at the top of your egusi.
- Add the meat stock, mix very well and allow boiling for 12minutes.
- Add the blended pepper mix, seasoning cube, ground crayfish and the cooked assorted meat, ponmo & fish (stock fish and dry fish) and cook for 10 minutes
- At this point, add your sliced vegetables. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Your delicious Egusi soup is ready. It can be enjoyed with any swallow or your choice, rice or even boiled yam.
We have also written on how to make Ogbono soup.