Egusi (Melon) soup is a highly indulgent exotic soup popular in most West African countries. Made with Egusi seeds, the soup is hearty and oozes earthy flavors! It comes in different patterns and textures and at this dire time of Coronavirus, it is the most needed as it is very budget friendly and can be combined a lot of other dishes – think of rice, swallow, pasta, yam and many more.
Egusi soup does not just benefit your stomach, it is a healthy meal rich in iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C, sodium, potassium, protein and carbohydrate, and low in fat, cholesterol, fiber, saturated fat, and sugar.
There are over 10 types and method of preparing Egusi soup as people have overtime explored with the nutritional item. Many a time, the result from the various methods is the same, just the preparation processes vary from an individual to another.
Some prefer cooking the melon paste lumps in water before adding in palm oil, others prefer to fry it in either palm oil or vegetable oil before other things come in. Some prefer to use just one type of vegetable at a time while others combine veggies. All in all, we are cooking and rating Egusi soup. Today, we will be looking at five recipes to make the liquid dish, feel free to use which step suits you and even explore – do more – as long as you are certain the dish will come out great!
Recipe 1: Fried Egusi Balls Soup
1 cup of ground melon, 1/4 cup of groundnut oil, 1 tablespoon of palm oil, 1/2 cup of pepper/sauce blended with onions, 1 cup of chopped spinach, 2 seasoning cubes, 1 tablespoon ground crayfish (or unground crayfish), Salt, 1 teaspoon locust beans, Meat and/or fish
Parboil the meat, wash the unground crayfish, wash the spinach, blend the pepper (if bonnet and onions), wash the locust beans and set all aside.
Mix the melon with two water, small enough to give you a thick paste and set aside. Place the pot on fire, add in the groundnut oil and melon paste in ball form and leave to fry for 3 minutes. Add one and a half cup of water into the fried Egusi and bring to boil for a minute. Add in palm oil, pepper, crayfish (if unground, wash before cooking to remove dirts and dust), washed locust beans, seasoning cubes, washed chopped spinach and fish/parboiled meat, and leave to cook for 10-12 minutes. Stir the soup and don’t forget to add salt to taste. Your fried Egusi balls soup is ready!
Recipe 2: Watery Egusi Ijebu
Melon, palm oil, pepper/sauce blended with onions or ground pepper, seasoning cubes, salt, locust beans, meat and/or fish and ponmo
Wash and parboil the meat and ponmo (cow skin), blend the pepper with melon, onions and little to form liquid but not watery (if you are using scotch bonnet), wash the locust beans and set all aside. If you are not using bonnet pepper but ground pepper instead, you can also blend it together or you may choose not to, so just blend the melon with water and set aside.
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Place the pot on fire, pour in the palm oil and the blended melon. If the ground pepper is not blended in, add in the pepper at this point and leave to boil for 5 minutes. Add in the fish or meat and salt to taste then leave to boil for 3 more minutes. Egusi Ijebu is mostly served ordinarily. Though you may choose sprinkle in a few pumpkin leaves or any other vegetable (ensure you have washed it thoroughly) to spice it up, it is best served in its liquid nature. The best living things that go with this soup are the smoked round fish, panla precisely and round ponmo (cow skin). Turkey or chicken may do good justice too.
Recipe 3: Fried Egusi
Dry-blended Egusi, scotch bonnet pepper blended roughly with onions, palm oil, sliced ugwu (pimpkin) leaves, meat, dried fish, seasoning cubes and salt.
Pour the blended Egusi in a bowl, add in a pinch of salt and mix well together with a teaspoon of water to form a not too soft and not too strong mold and set aside. Parboil the meat with onion, salt and seasoning, then add in the dried fish and boil until all are soft and with little stock left. You may further fry the tripe (shaki if you are using assorted meat) and set aside.
Place the pot on fire and heat up the palm oil for a minute, then add in the Egusi in molds into the oil. Stir fry for almost 5-6 minutes or until the egusi feels slightly dry as you stir (do not leave it unattended at any point or you risk burning the egusi. Add in the roughly blended pepper and stir continuously to mix in properly, then the meat and the stock (if you wish for more liquid then add more meat stock but if you prefer it dry then be sure to allow the stock almost boil off).
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Add in the fried tripe (shaki), dried fish and stir to mix together. Taste for seasoning and salt, though, usually, you may not need additional seasoning and salt as the one from the stock would be enough. Finally, add in the pumpkin leaves (ugwu) and leave to cook for 3 more minutes. Your fried Egusi soup is ready to be launched with Semo or Amala most preferably or any other swallow. You can take down with rice too., or spaghetti or yam, and any other complement that suits you.
Recipe 4: Egusi Elefo Meta (Three Vegetabled-Melon Soup)
Egusi soup is traditionally cooked with a type of vegetable leaf, be it waterleaves, bitter leaves or Ugwu leaves but this recipe, born out of experiment and exploration brings 3 vegetables in one soup.
Chopped spinach, kale, chopped and uziza leaves (you can as well use other leaves of your choice – scent leaves, pumpkin, waterleaf, etc), palm oil, locust beans, salt, beef, smoked fish, assorted meat/offal (shaki, ponmo, liver, lungs), pepper mix ( tatashe, ata rodo and onions).
Rinse the vegetables and leave to drain. If you would be using frozen vegetables, allow thawing before using. Squeeze out excess water and set aside. Wash and rinse assorted meat clean. If you would be using offal, it is best you first boil with just water and a little salt for about 12 minutes to get rid of the blood. Rinse clean afterwards and then bring to boil, add salt, seasoning, onions till tender. Reserve the stock for the egusi soup.
Add little quantity of warm water to ground melon and mix well to form a moderate paste. Place the pot on medium heat, add in palm oil and let it heat up then add in chopped onions. Add the melon paste, reduce the heat and continue to stir till the melon start to form lumps. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Add in the blended pepper to and stir, add stock or water to lighten the soup. Add the cooked assorted meat and bring to boil for about 10 minutes making sure you stir at interval. Add the locust beans and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, check for salt and seasoning and add according to taste, shred the smoked fish into the soup and stir carefully to avoid breaking the fish. Add the vegetables to the soup and stir till they are well incorporated into the soup. Add water if need be, check for salt and seasoning and adjust to taste.
Recipe 5: Bitter-Water-Pumpkin Leaved Egusi
Blended onions, fresh chilies, ground melon, palm oil, fresh Une Iru, locust beans, salt to taste, ground crayfish, stock, cooked meat & fish quantity and variety to personal preference, pumpkin leaves, waterleaf and bitter leaf
Blend the egusi with onion and prepare the melon paste from any of the methods above. In a large pot, heat the palm oil on medium for a minute and then add the locust beans. Slowly add the stock and set on low heat to simmer. Scoop teaspoon size balls of the paste into the stock and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes so the balls cook thoroughly. Add in the meat and fish and other bits you’d like to use, then the shredded and washed pumpkin leaves and waterleaf. Stir, cover the pot and allow cook for 7–10 minutes, till the leaves wilt. Then, add in the bitter leaf and leave while the cooking finishes for another 5-10 minutes. Stir, check seasoning and adjust accordingly.
1. Go easy on the salt when cooking Egusi soup. If your are using a well seasoned meat stock, you might not need to season the soup anymore. If you also sprinkle some salt on the fish after washing it, you might as well not need to add salt to the soup again. If you have to use salt at all, let it be the last thing you would add to the soup. Egusi soup has a way of sucking up salt and if care is not taken, you end up with soup tasting like it is cooked with seawater.
2. You can garnish your melon soup with whatever meat part or sea food of your choice so your shrimps, prawns, stock fish, smoked fish, assorted meat, beef and all other can come into play. You can as well have 9 lived, 7 lived, 10 lived and many more lived soup, depending on your choice, so don’t be restricted, EXPLORE!Photos Credit: Getty
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