Cassava leaf soup also known as saka saka or pondu is a simple, yet tasty and substantial soup that is widely consumed in many parts of Central Africa especially in countries like Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
In the French speaking parts of Cameroon, it is disguised as Nwem – a more rustic version of this dish sometimes made with fresh corn, palm oil, with or without salt (Kwem sans sel).
Growing up I particularly disliked, kwem, was just not appealing to me, especially the salt less version. When I first tasted this Sierra Leone version from my wonderful sister in law, Mary. It was amazingly good –the inclusion of dried shrimp, meat and groundnut paste appealed to all my senses.
This exotic, cassava leaf soup is not actually a soup but sort of a stew. Can be prepared with any meat or fish. Most African countries use dry fish (smoked fish) in their soups for added flavor. I substitute smoked chicken in this recipe because that is what is readily available in my neck of the woods. Another good substitute is smoked turkey.
Cassava leaf is available ground and frozen in most African, Pilipino stores, if you are leaving abroad and want to purchase it .A good substitute would be – chopped spinach, you would have to blend it in a food processor for a fine consistency that is so distinctive of this soup.
Serve over white rice.
Cassava Leaf Soup
- 3 pounds frozen cassava leaves
- 1 pound beef cut in bite size pieces
- ½ pound smoked chicken,turkey, fish
- 1 medium onion chopped
- ½ - 1 cup palm oil I used ½ palm oil and half canola oil
- 1/2 cup ground cray fish dried shrimps
- 4-5 tablespoon ground groundnuts peanut butter puree
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon or Maggie powder
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1/2 - 1 pound shrimp optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan, season meat with salt, Maggi and onions and boil until tender, depending on the choice of meat. You should have at least 1-2 cups of stock. Remove the meat and beef stock, reserve
- Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat , add onions and crayfish l, sauté until fragrant about 1-2 minutes. Add beef and or / smoked meat .
- Stir in peanut butter or groundnut paste, then add stock about a cup cook for another 5 minutes.
- Throw in the drained cassava leaves and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
- Finally if using shrimp add shrimp - cook until shrimp turns pink about 3-5 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings (Maggie, salt, soup consistency with water and oil) to taste
- Serve warm over rice
Tips & Notes:
- Can be prepared with any meat or fish. Most African countries use dry fish (smoked fish) in their soups for added flavor.
- If you can't find cassava leaves, a good substitute would be chopped spinach. You would have to blend it in a food processor for a fine consistency that is so distinctive of this soup.