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Recipe for Ofe Onugbu

On our menu today is Ofe Onugbu, the absolutely delicious soup that hails from Anambra State. Anambra Onugbu Soup is known by its signature long bitter leaves and the wrapped locust beans which is locally known as ogili isii. Ogili isii gives ofe onugbu its unique aroma and flavor. Before we discuss the making of this soup, let me say that in preparing, palm oil can be substituted with palm oil extract from akwu (banga) with excellent results. Also bear in mind that already washed bitter leaves are sold in local markets within the country alongside other ingredients for making this soup. However, some of these leaves are not completely rid of bitterness. So, you may have to either parboil or hand wash it a bit more to get rid of the bitter taste.

Ofe Onugbu is easy to prepare; I can assure you that a well prepared pot of this soup is a winner any day, anytime. Why not cook it for yourself or for boo this weekend?


Washed and squeezed bitterleaf


Palm Oil

Assorted Meat (Cow tail, beef, shaki) 

Dry Fish


Ogiri isii




Stock cubes

How to Cook

The first step in making this soup is to boil the cocoyam. Please note that cocoyam is rinsed and boiled with its skin till it is tender. Either pound or blend the cocoyam to achieve a smooth paste.

Rinse the meat very well to get rid of sand. Also rinse the stock fish, smoked fish and dry fish with warm water then set it aside in a bowl.

Season the meat with stock cubes and salt. Cook on medium heat till it is tender. Please take note of two vital points as it concerns the meat. First, when boiling different kinds of meat, it’s advisable to start by boiling the tougher meats like cow tail and shaki first. The second point is this, I do not use onions to cook any cocoyam soup.

Taste the bitter leaf for bitterness. Sounds funny right? Well, if it’s still bitter, you can parboil it for about fifteen minutes before rinsing it in cold water.

When the meat is tender, add more water to the pot. The water should be enough to make the quantity of soup you desire. Next, add palm oil to the pot, then pepper, ground crayfish, stock cubes and salt. Stir and allow to cook.

After about ten minutes, add the ogili isii. Then add the cocoyam paste (in small lumps). Cover the pot and leave to cook on medium heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved. By this time, the aroma should have left your house to go tantalize the nostrils of the neighbours, that is if your ogili is the correct one oh! Not this chere wére variety that is everywhere you go.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if need be. Add the bitter leaves. Stir the pot and if the soup is too thick, add more water to it. After about five minutes, turn down the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about two minutes.

Serve hot with eba, pounded yam, semo, fufu, wheat or even amala.

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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