The Seven Leaf Vegetable Soup

I love vegetable soup. And you wanna know why? Well, you can achieve different tastes just by mixing and matching the leafy greens. A lot of Nigerian soups qualify for the phrase ‘vegetable soup’ but the most popular is the one with pumpkin(Ugu), waterleaf and Okazi leaves. In my mind’s eye, I’m seeing visions of hot yellow garri, steaming plates of soup with ‘correct’ pieces of stockfish, dried fish, chicken, beef. At 7:00 am on a working day? chai what a savoury temptation!

My 7 leaves vegetable soup came to be after I had lunch at a popular restaurant in Abuja while on a visit to the capital city. I had requested for vegetable soup and was surprised when the food came earlier than I expected.  It tasted good but there was something I couldn’t just place. I tried guessing but I couldn’t quite pin it. I called the attention of the waiter but he wasn’t of much help

I decided I’ll make that soup when I get home. And so with my chief chef abilities and can do attitude of a 9ja girl, I got to work and after many culinary disasters, the result is the 7 leaves vegetable soup phew!

7 leaves vegetable soup is healthy, fresh, wholesome and proudly Nigerian. I deliberately left out Okazi leaf because of its overpowering flavour. You can adjust the veggies to include other leafy greens in your locality. The soup goes well with dried fish, stockfish, red meat, poultry, seafood and any type of swallow. I tried using fresh fish to prepare it but didn’t like the taste. I invite you to try making the soup. Please sub any of the veggies and let us know what it looks and tastes like

7 leaves vegetable soup is ideal for weight loss. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants, fibres, vitamins, minerals, and protein. I prefer to eat mine as an early lunch. You can prepare the base sauce days earlier, heat up the sauce and add the leafy greens. Viola your soup is set to serve! The leafy greens used for making this soup are (in order of adding to the pot!)

WATERLEAF: Waterleaf was added first to enable me to use its juices to steam the other veggies.

UGU, GARDEN EGG LEAF, ORA(OHA/UHA), GREEN: followed to ensure adequate softening of the leaves.

SCENT LEAF, UZIZA: keep the flavours and aroma fresh.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Handfuls of the following Waterleaf, Ugu (pumpkin), Ora leaves

  • A Handful of Green, Garden egg Leaves

  • A handful of a mix of Scent leaf and Uziza

  • 1½ cups Crayfish(cleaned)

  • 1 large red onion, 3 scotch bonnet

  • 1½ cooking spoons palm oil

Your choice of chicken, beef, goat meat, prawns (fresh, dried or frozen), dried fish, stockfish. A combo of these is great

Bouillon cubes, salt to taste

METHOD:

  • In a pot of water add your meat, stockfish and season with salt, onion, bouillon cubes and steam until tender. Add dried fish and prawns Take care with the stock water. For the soup, we’ll need it small but concentrated  

  • Clean the crayfish to remove those tiny shellfish and any debris from the sea

  • Add diced onion, scotch bonnet, crayfish and water to your blender. Run at high speed to achieve a smooth mixture.

  • Steam the crayfish sauce until much of the liquid dries

  • Add the palm oil and sauté the crayfish sauce. The sauce is done when it’s about to boil

  • Add your fish, beef, prawns at this stage and fold into the crayfish sauce. Add your bouillon cubes to taste

  • Stir the sauce as you add the leafy vegetables in the following order-Waterleaf, Ugu, Garden egg leaf, Ora, Green, Scent leaf and Uziza in quick succession

  • Continue stirring to avoid burns. Do not overcook the vegetables.

  • Whatever you do, do not cover the pot as that will make the soup watery and the vegetables a dull green.

  • Check for salt and add a bit if needed. Remember that Uziza and Scent leaf are naturally flavourful. So cautiously use the seasonings

  • Serve with the Swallow of your choice Acha, Oat, Wheat, Garri. Or better still eat as is!

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