Recipe Tips: How To Prepare The Interesting Nsala Soup, The Igbos ‘Ofe Nsala’

Nsala soup or White Soup is a tasty, fast and easy soup. It is commonly seen in the eastern part of Nigeria, the Igbos and some parts of south south. Igbos call it “Ofe Nsala”.

Nsala Soup is rich source of both carbohydrate and protein spiced with pepper, crayfish and ogiri/iru, utazi leaves and stock cube.  It is perfect for a cold day due to its spicy taste
It is also called white soup because it requires little or no palm oil. I was told it is a desirable dish for pregnant women and women who just gave birth. The reason is because it aids digestion process and prevents irritation that might come up during prenatal and postnatal. If you need a very cheap an quick soup that requires little time, you can opt for Nsala Soup This perhaps explains its general acceptance by both men and women.

To prepare Nsala soup, catfish is an important ingredient in Nsala soup that gives it that unique taste. Conger Eel is another fish close to cat fish. In case you don’t see cat fish around you, Conger Eel can serve. Read the step-by-step guide on how to prepare Nsala Soup, Igbos call it “Ofe Nsala”.

            How To Prepare Nsala Soup, Igbos call it “Ofe Nsala”

Ingredients to Prepare Nsala Soup

  • Fresh or dry Utazi Leaves (Gongronema latifolium)
  • Cat Fish: 4 one-inch thick pieces
  • 1 handful of crayfish
  • 1 Ogiri Okpei (Nigerian traditional seasoning)
  • Habanero peppers: to taste
  • 1 stock cube (Maggi / Knorr)
  • Raw White Yam / Yam Powder / Potato Puree (Thickener)
  • Salt (to taste)

Alternative Ingredients to Prepare Nsala Soup

  • Conger Eel (Congrio in Spanish) can be an alternative to Cat fish. When considering using Conger Eel (Congrio in Spanish), go for the part towards the tail, the pieces gotten from there are usually smaller and have tiny holes
  • Yam powder can be substituted for white yam as a thickener. You mix the powder with hot water to make a thick smooth paste just as if you are making pounded yam . The powdered yam should be mixed before adding to the pot of soup, adding it directly will make the soup mush and lumpy
  • Dry chilli pepper can be used in place of habanero pepper.
  • The utazi leaves add a little bitter flavor to the soup. Utazi leaves doesn’t have a good alternative , if you don’t have it, don’t bother using it

What to do Before you cook Nsala Soup

  • Cut the catfish into 1 inch thick cylindrical discs and remove the intestines. Place in bowl and pour very hot water on the fish. This process of pouring hot water on the fish toughens the skin of the fish so it doesn’t scatter while cooking the soup. Leave for about 2 minutes and wash the fish with cold water and  also wash off any slimy substance on the outer skin of the fish
  • Boil some pieces of white raw yam and pound when soft using a mortar and pestles till you get a smooth paste. Yam powder and potatoes puree can serve as an alternative here. This serves as a thickener
  • Wash the utazi leaves, pound or blend the utazi leaves, the pepper and crayfish and set aside. Utazi is a bitter leaf use for flavouring so one or two fresh leaves is enough for this

How to Prepare Nsala Soup – Cooking Directions

  • Boil your fish or beef. We are making using use of catfish so placed the washed fish in a pot then add water to cover the fish and cook with the seasoning till it’s done. You can add meat or dry fish if you wish
  • When the catfish is almost done add the following ingredients: crayfish, pepper and utazi leaves blend.
  • Scoop the yam paste into the pot and add salt to taste.
  • Cover pot and allow contents to cook until all the yam paste dissolves. If you think the yam paste is too much while cooking, you can remove some while it is yet to dissolve

Nsala soup is ready and can be served with  Eba, semolinas, amala, fufu or pounded yam


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