Pumpkin Leaf (Ugu) Pepper Soup

Pumpkin Leaf Pepper Soup

In this post I am tapping into the versatility of soups and thinking "Out of the Nigerian Foodie Box"!. Notice I emphasized Nigerian, this is because we feel very precious about our food, and recipes like the one I am sharing today, raise a lot of eye brows......well initially at least....then they come around...hehehe.

All over the world, people eat soups and every nation has its ways of making them. Ingredients used to make soups vary widely, and these could range from poultry to beef, seafood, and of course different types of vegetables etcetera....These ingredients are used individually or in combination, and the proportion and choice of combination depends entirely on you....and your preference(s).

In Nigeria, soups are always ever eaten as an accompaniment to a carbohydrate rich main dish like pounded yam or gari or tuwo...Its not really a Nigerian culinary concept to eat soup as a main dish.

Living in the UK for so long, I do enjoy eating soups especially during the colder seasons and I do get real fullness and satisfaction from eating them. Nutritionally speaking, soups are so light and are readily assimilated into the system, in fact they are the lightest form of food known to man, because of the ingredients used in them and because they are made up of. up to 90% liquid (water). This fact is known to learned health, fitness and nutrition practitioners that they recommend soups to those who are serious about managing their weight.

In Nigeria, we have the very popular pepper soup which is made of either meat or fish. While pepper soup could be really flavourful and delicious due to the wonderful spices used to make it, it usually lacks body and boldness. The main focus of making the typical Nigerian pepper soup is to add spices (actually the spicier the better), choice of meat or fish and not much else perhaps some yam or plantain.  This makes the soup quite thin and basic, little wonder it is mostly served as a starter or something to eat while the main food is being prepared, or for social/recreational purposes.

All that is about to change.....at least for me. I have created a variety of soups which can be served up as a main meal with a small accompaniment. My focus in creating these soups, is health and well being. I want to use soups as a means to load up on the vital vitamins and nutrients....

I invite you to come and join me...and for this recipe idea, all you have to do is blend your ugu leaves and add to your pepper soup, using your own preferred recipe or you can check my recipe guide below.

Serve and enjoy as a light meal on a cold evening or include in your weight management plan. This soup is a great way to eat more of the highly nutritious pumpkin (ugu) leaves Also ugu leaves are great in smoothies but if you find it hard to add to your smoothies, blend and add to your soups...!

What you need
  • Fluted pumpkin leaves (Ugu) (you can use kale as an alternative)
  • Goat meat
  • Dried smoked fish (shred, bone and wash thoroughly)
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Pepper soup spices (iyere, uda, aridan, ehuru)
  • Cameroon pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Onion
  • Scent leaves
  • Fresh thyme preferably
  • Olive oil (optional)

What to do
  1. Cut your goat meat into small pieces and season with some salt. Chop the onion and tomatoes and add to the seasoned meat.Add the thyme and some water enough cook the meat until quite tender. 
  2. When meat is cooked, add some hot water to increase quantity of the stock you have produced from the goat meat and add you pepper soup spices. Add also the Cameroon pepper (use ground chill as an alternative. This will give heat to the soup so use with caution). 
  3. At this point you want to turn the heat to medium to avoid overcooking the meat. We just want the flavours from the spices to infuse into the meat. Taste for salt and adjust according to your requirements, you may also put additional condiments of your choice to give the soup the aroma/flavours you desire. Give the emerging soup a final taste and once you are happy with the taste, add the shredded , boned and washed smoked fish. 
  4. Finally Blend your ugu leaves and scent leaves and add to the soup. Allow to simmer and stir well to combine all ingredients. The ugu leaves will thicken the soup so the amount you add should be proportionate to the other ingredients.
  5. Drizzle some good quality oil such as olive oil or avocado oil at the final stage of cooking. This is optional though but it adds to the goodness of the soup.
  6. Serve hot with a small portion of boiled yam or hard crusted wholemeal bread and enjoy as a light meal on a cold evening or include in our weight management plan. Its a great way to eat more ugu and if you find it hard to add ugu to your smoothies, blend it and add to your soups.

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