Ofe Assorted! (An Exotic Soup)

Filing this under food therapies. I’ve called this soup Ofe Assorted because that is what it is, I’ve used the basic principle for cooking soups like Oha, Onugbu, Ofe owerri to make this soup, using 3 of my favourite vegetables together. I have also resisted the temptation of calling this soup Ofe Owerri as I have no intention of offering the “Guardians of ancient recipes”, as that is tantamount to offending the gods of the land.

I have stayed a safe distance from entering right smack into the controversy of what vegetable goes into Ofe Owerri. I understand the importance of preserving ancient recipes, if you must tweak it, by all means mention that you put a spin on it but don’t say that is gospel.

I’m a Yoruba girl raised in Ibadan and I know that something as simple as a Ewedu soup has to be made as simple as it is yo stay true to it. Just Ewedu, iru water, salt ,seasoning and if you want to add potash to soften it. Addition of Egusi , fish and all what else is a spin on it, don’t sell it as the original recipe.

Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Oha leaves
  • 1 cup shredded Uziza leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded Utazi leaves
  • 1 litre Stock
  • 3 tbsp fresh pepper blend
  • 1/2 Cup Palm oil
  • Assorted Meats (cooked)
  • 3 tbsp ground crayfish
  • 1/2 cup mini snails
  • 1/2 cup periwinkle in shell
  • 1/2 cup shredded Stockfish
  • 1/2 cup shredded Bonga fish
  • 1/2 cup shredded smoked Eja Osan
  • 2 Bouillon cubes (I used knorr)
  • 1 tsp Ogiri (optional)
  • 1 tbsp dried Achi
  • Salt (to taste)

Procedure

  • Cook your assorted meats till they are tender and you have about 1 litre of rich stock. To improve the flavour of your stock for this soup add some Stockfish or smoked fish head while cooking your meats.
  • Add your fresh pepper blend and palm oil, ground crayfish and cook for about 10mins.
  • Next add your smoked fish, stockfish, snails and periwinkle , cook for about 5 – 7 mins.
  • Add your achi , stirring it in carefully . Cook on medium heat for about 3 mins.
  • Add your vegetables, giving the Utazi and Uziza a 2 minutes head start before the Oha.
  • Turn the heat off after cooking it for about 5 mins.

  • Enjoy!!!!

Ofe Onugbu

In recent times I’ve done very little “cooking”, most meals have consisted of quick fixes, take outs or otherwise cooked by someone else. I had a rough start this year. Thankfully it’s been rough for the right reasons, Growth in my  business Fontaine De Vie. Shortage of man power,  break down of some machinery welcomed the growth, it was a gruelling time because we just had to meet up. I went from a production staff strength of 5  to 1 coupled with no domestic staff to help with the home front, I found myself borrowing more hours  from the next day  only to fall short. It’s amazing how my health didn’t fail in all of this. I made it through and  I’m grateful  for the lessons I learnt during the phase.  Challenges are made to strengthen  you, it won’t break you if you don’t let it. 
Ofe Onugbu recipe is the same as that of Oha, only difference is the leaves, Oha and Onugbu (Bitter Leaf). I’m a yoruba girl who loves to cook eastern and south eastern soups, a little more pepper than the traditional requirement and I’m good!

Ingredients

•     Onugbu leaves (Bitter Leaf) a handful

    Thickeners 

•    Cocoyam – 8 small corms

Or

•    Achi (2 Tablespoons *powdered)

Or

•    Ofor  ( 2 Tablespoons *powdered)

•    Red Palm Oil – 2 cooking spoons

•    Assorted Beef meats

•    Assorted dry  Fish

•    Fresh peppers (scotch bonnet / habenero /ata rodo)

•    Salt to taste

•    Crayfish (powdered)

•   Bouillon Cubes

•    1 teaspoon Ogiri Igbo (for the traditional taste but optional)

Procedure

–    Grind pepper and set aside.

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Blended Pepper

Achi on the left, Ofor the right, ground mixture of both in front

*If using Cocoyam

–    Wash and boil the cocoyam corms till soft.
Remove the peels and  in a blender , blend to a smooth paste you can also use a mortar and pestle , that is the more traditional approach.

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Mashed Cocoyam using a blender

–   Personally I buy, bitter leaves that have been washed in the market. However when I get home I pour boiling hot water over the bitter leaves and leave it steep for about a minute and strain, a friend advised I use salt to just wash it a little more instead of using hot water,  to get rid of more of the bitterness. Now you may prefer to buy your own Bitter Leaf fresh , and wash from the scratch, I think it is tedious, but hey whatever rocks your boat. Set it aside.

–   Season and  boil the meats, when then are tender add stock fish and dry fish.

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–    Add the pepper, ogiri Igbo and ground crayfish and cook for 10 minutes. Now add either Achi/Ofor powder mix or the cocoyam paste in small lumps then the palm oil

See Pictures below.

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Ogiri

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–    Cover the pot and leave to cook on high heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved. You can add more water if you feel that the soup is too thick. 

* Remove smoked catfish if you are using any at this point to prevent disintegration

–    Add the washed Onugbu (bitter) leaves and leave to cook for about 5 minutes.

* Ever since the Igbo woman who sells  me spices adviced I use a combination of Achi and Ofor instead of Cocoyam, I have come to fall in love with it. The smoothness, the consistency, the taste, is so different from what I get with cocoyam.  I love it.

Serve with your favourite starchy side dish. E.g Eba, Amala, Pounded Yam,  even Rice.