Bitter Leaf Soup (Ofe Onugbu) | How to Cook Nigerian Soups

Bitter Leaf soup is a West African soup; it is one of the main soups in countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana.

Nigerian Bitter leaf soup – Ofe onugbu (as the Igbos like to call it), Obe efo Elewuro by the Yorubas and, Miyan shuwaka by the Hausas it is a special delicacy.

Please Read: Nsala Soup: Nigerian White Soup Pepper Soup

It is a traditional soup especially to the people of Anambra State of Eastern Nigeria.

It represents who we are – valiant and strong. What this healthy African soup is to an Anambra person can be compared to what Ofe Owerri is to an Owerri person.

Ofe Onugbu is what an Anambra woman will cook to show her cooking skills in the kitchen.

No occasion is complete without bitter leaf soup and fufu or pounded yam in Igbo land.

However, there are lots of methods to prepare onugbu soup; in any case, the leaf must be the main focus. You can buy bitter leaf in any of our local markets.

How to Wash Bitter Leaf (VIDEO)

Bitter leaf plant is very bitter. You need to wash the bitter leaf (kneading the leaves together) thoroughly until it’s less bitter.

If this is not done, your bitter leaf soup will be too bitter and you will not be able to eat it.

Bitter Leaf Soup Benefits

Bitter leaf is popularly used as cooking vegetables in Nigeria. It is scientifically called Vernonia Amygdalina. Aside from its culinary purposes, this herb is being approved by a few health professionals due to its therapeutic value and curative potency.

How to Wash Bitter leaf (VIDEO)

Bitter Leaf during Pregnancy

In addressing pregnant women, the bitter leaf can be a very helpful addition to their nutrition.

But you must consume it in moderation. Do not make it your main diet as the bitter leaf has been shown to lead to a contraction of the uterus.

In early pregnancy, this is not a good thing as it could lead to a miscarriage.

However, towards the end of your pregnancy, it can help prepare your body for birth.

Lastly, bitter leaf juice can be used as a tea, and for weight loss, etc.

Different Methods of Preparing Bitter Leaf Soup

You can customize or make bitter soup your own by adding the following ingredients:

  • Egusi
  • Water-leaf
  • Palm fruit
  • Dried bitter leaf
  • Achi,
  • Ogbono,
  • Ofor
  • With/without cocoyam (ede)
  • Or even Garri. Amazed?

Nevertheless, the most known of them all is bitter leaf soup with cocoyam (cocoyam soup).

These are the two essential ingredients that I will use to make this igbo bitter leaf soup in this video.

How to Prepare Bitter Leaf Soup

This is a step by step simple recipe on how to prepare the soup:


  • Precooked assorted meat (Beef/chicken etc.)
  • Stock and smoked fish (softened in warm water)
  • Ground crayfish
  • Dried pepper
  • Washed bitter leaves (fresh or dried)
  • Cocoyam (peeled and washed)
  • Palm oil
  • Ogiri Isii for that traditional taste (optional)
  • Seasoning cubes and salt – to taste


  1. Firstly, wash the bitterness off from the bitter leaf leaving little trace of bitterness in it. If using dried bitter leaves, soak it in some warm water to soften the leaves.
  2. Then, wash the cocoyam and cook until it becomes soft.
  3. Finally, take away the peels and use a mortar and pestle to pound it to a smooth paste (as shown).

How to Cook

  1. Firstly, wash the various meats in clean water and put the assorted meat in a pot.
  2. Then, add two seasoning cubes, sliced onion, salt to taste, a small drop of dried curry and thyme powder – mix very well.
  3. Thirdly, bring to boil for about 2 minutes, pour water and cook for roughly 20 minutes.
  4. After that, add stock-fish (before making the soup, soak the stock-fish in water in order to make them soft).  Bring to boil for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Then add palm oil, grounded pepper, and crayfish, ogiri isii (dissolved in water to prevent it from forming lumps in the soup) to the already boiling soup. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Lastly, add in the pounded cocoyam (in small lumps- for fast dissolving and increase your heat). Simmer for another 5 minutes and lower the heat.

That’s it! Simple isn’t it? Serve your onugbu soup with any swallow of your choice.

Picture of Bitter Leaf Soup
Picture of Bitter Leaf Soup


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