Onugbu - bitterleaf - Soup - ibo - igbo - Nigerian - ewuro Ofe Onugbu (Bitter leaf soup)

Ofe is the igbo word for Soup, it preludes most native soups that are specific to the ibo people of Eastern Nigeria. Onugbu is used to identify the bitterleaf  plant (Vernonia amygdalina). Hence Ofe onugbu is bitterleaf soup. The soup like most soups from the region has a meat / fish broth base and requires thickening which is done by adding pounded cocoyam paste (ede). The peculiar taste of the soup comes from the leaves used and the presence of Ogiri (fermented locust beans).

This is a simple recipe on how to prepare the soup. Please note that the choice and ratio of protein is based on personal preference.


  • Precooked Assorted meat (Beef/goat chunks, shaki, snails etc)
  • 2- 3 Stock fish and smoked fish (softened in hot water)
  • ¼ cup ground crayfish
  • Dried pepper – to taste
  • ½ cup washed bitter leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 6 small cocoyams (peeled and washed)
  • ¼ – 1/2 cup palm oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons ogiri (locust beans)
  • Maggi and salt – to taste


  • If using dried bitter leaves, soak it in some hot water to tenderize the leaves. Set aside
  • Cover washed cocoyam with water and boil on medium heat until cooked through and fork tender. Remove from water and pound to a paste in a mortal or process in a blender or food processor. Set aside

ede - cocoyam - paste - igbo - soup

  • Combine meat, fish , snail and smoked fish in a pot. Add 2 cups of water. Set on medium heat. Add the maggi, salt , pepper and crayfish. Simmer for 15 minutes

Nigerian - soup - making - base - broth

Soup - Nigerian - broth

  • Add in the pounded cocoyam, ogiri and palm oil, stir well to combine and dissolve the cocoyam paste. Simmer for another 5 minutes
    • Note: You can add in some more water at this point if you will like your soup to be lighter.
  • Drain and add in the bitter leaves. Combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning.  Simmer for another 5 minutes

Onugbu - bitterleaf - soup - traditionalLocal - igbo - soup - ogiri - onugbuYour soup is ready to serve, serve with your choice of pounded yam, fufu or Garri


Did you know: If you substitute the bitter leaves in this recipe with Ora leaves, you get “ora (oha) soup” and if you substitute in okazi leaves you have “ofe owerri” . Most people add locust beans into this soup, I personally prefer it without.
Have a great weekend everyone! Happy cooking :)