Bitter Leaf soup is a robust West African soup, predominant in countries like Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana.This dish is neither a soup nor sauce, but something in between – a slightly soupy vegetable that is served to accompany starchy food like fufu.
The soup gets it’s name from the vegetable- bitter-leaf, also known as Vernonia amygdaline, wuro, or onugbu . It is a widely consumed vegetable in West Africa and is added to soups, stews and one pot meals for flavor, texture and nutritional benefits-(heavily relies on primary sources than any medical organization)
There are so many ways to prepare this dish however; bitter leaf needs to take center stage.True to its name bitter leaf is very bitter. You have to wash it (rubbing the leaves together) thoroughly before cooking till most of the bitterness is gone. Now, this is the part I could do without.
I always start with some kind of meat or fish (mostly smoked) and then proceed with sauté onions and tomatoes. Then throw in washed bitter-leaf, egusi, crayfish, hot pepper or whatever suit my taste buds.
For those living abroad, you can sub bitter-leaf with kale, collard greens or blanched spinach. You can also purchase dried bitter-leaf from African stores.
What I learned is that bitter -leaf is one of those vegetables that can be cultivated anywhere as opposed to certain vegetables that can only flourish with certain temperatures and places.
.So if you are a gardener you can plant it and enjoy fresh bitter leaf anywhere you are.
Watch How To Make It
Bitter Leaf Soup
- 2 -3 pounds of assorted meat chicken, beef, smoked fish, smoked turkey
- ¼- ½ cup cooking oil
- ½ large onion sliced
- 2 tomatoes sliced
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced optional
- ½ cup ground crayfish
- ½ cup ground egusi
- 2 cups washed bitterleaf 3 cups if using bitterleaf only
- 3 cups fresh chopped spinach
- 1 tablespoon bouillon or 2 maggie cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pan season meat or chicken with salt, maggi and onions and boil until tender depending on the choice of meat. You should have about 3 cups of stock from the meat and smoked fish (if using any). Reserve the rest or freeze it.
- While chicken is cooking, slice tomatoes, onions and mince the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions. Sauté the onion until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, and pepper, to taste.
- Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, garlic, and crayfish. Add the chicken /beef pieces; press to submerge. Then add ground egusi with chicken stock bring to a simmer.
- Add bitter-leaf, followed by spinach, let it simmer for about 2 minutes
- Serve warm with fufu or accompaniment of choice