Edo State was formed in 1991 from the northern portion of the erstwhile Bendel State. Benin City is the state capital and the largest urban area in the state. The Edo (Bini) people, who are linked to the historic kingdom of Benin, largely occupy the state. Indeed, the word ‘Edo’ refers to the people, their language, and kingdom. Edo is a land with a rich cultural heritage which is imbued in her food, dressing, language, and traditions. The traditional food of the Edo is a representative of what is obtained in most of the communities within the state.
On our food history segment today is owo soup. This soup originated from Edo State and is named after Owo, a large town about 70 miles north of Benin. Owo soup is allegedly one of the oldest dishes prepared and eaten by the people of Edo State. It is very easy to prepare. In fact, it is best prepared with smoked catfish, prawn, and bush meat. However, in the absence of these, any other meat or fish can be used.
Owo soup is usually thick. There is a characteristic sweetness which tomatoes bring to this soup. Other ingredients used in making this soup are crayfish, pepper, palm oil, locust bean, potash, and salt. These ingredients can be easily purchased at any of the local markets within Nigeria. There are also different variations of owo soup prepared by the Urhobo, the Itshekiri and other communities within the South-South region.
Unlike most Nigerians soups which require vegetables like spinach, fluted pumpkin, and water leaves, owo soup preparation requires no vegetables. Again, while potash is rarely used in the preparation of most Nigerian soups, it is a major ingredient in the preparation of Benin Owo soup. Another difference between this soup and other Nigerian soups is the fact that it is traditionally eaten with unripe plantain or yam. This is unlike other soups that are usually eaten with eba, semo, pounded yam, and other types of swallow. These differences are perhaps the reasons why some people assert that this soup is instead a type of stew.
Owo Soup is aesthetically served in well-polished earthenware pots. It is very delicious.
Featured image source: Pulse NG