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Pepper soup is a delightful appetizer known in West Africa, notably Nigeria. Personally, I see Nigerian pepper soup as a satisfying light soup that cools you off after a long day. It’s warm and comforting to the taste buds, especially on chilly days. The hotness also gives a spicy feel.
Pepper soup isn’t just delicious; it’s also a good medicine for your health. One of its major nutrients is capsaicin, which is found in the spicy peppers used in the soup is a natural medicine – it can help lower fever and even cure colds. The meat in the soup is also high in protein. And here’s one interesting fact: if you’re feeling stuffy from cold, eating spicy foods like pepper soup can help clear up your nose and make you breathe easier.
Nigerian pepper soup has different variations depending on the protein used in making it; the spice and other ingredients are consistent in all the variations, but the flavor is different, each of them carries the aroma and flavor of the protein.
I will tell you about the 5 common types of Nigerian pepper soup. Now, out of these, do I have a favorite? You bet I do! And you know what? I also have one that I like the least. So, let’s get into it.
5 Types of Nigerian Pepper Soup you Should Try
- Goat Meat Pepper Soup
- Chicken Pepper Soup
- Assorted Meat Pepper Soup
- Catfish Pepper Soup
- Cow Leg/Tail Pepper Soup
Different types of meat, like chicken, fish, or goat, can be used to make this soup. It’s not just about the heat – the combination of spices like pepper soup spice, uziza leaves and more.
Goat Meat Pepper Soup: Goat meat pepper soup is a tasty mix of goat meat and amazing pepper soup spices. It’s super healthy! Goat meat is rich in protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. It’s got good fats, too, compared to beef or pork, and perfect for your heart. Depending on your style, you can go for a tender young goat or a flavorful mature goat. Here’s how to cook your goat meat pepper soup.
Chicken Peppers Soup: Chicken lovers, here’s yours for you. The cool thing about chicken pepper soup is that you can use any part of the chicken, but the chicken breast is often used to achieve that tender taste and is also boneless. If you want a tougher chicken, the local chicken (hen) is your best option. Here’s a step-by-step process to make chicken pepper soup for your desired result.
Assorted Meat Pepper Soup: This has a combination of Offals(a variety of internal organ meat in animals). In this case, it’s mostly cows. Yorubas call it “Orisirisi,” meaning different types of meat. You will find tripe (shaki), liver, kidney, and any offal of choice. This is the most affordable meat to make pepper soup. It’s very nutritional and best for pregnant women because of the presence of Folate. You have to parboil the meat to get rid of the smell, especially if you bought it in a local market. After which, you can use it directly for your pepper soup.
Catfish Pepper Soup: Of all Nigerian pepper soup, catfish pepper soup is the only fish pepper soup. It is an essential Friday night tradition to enjoy a bowl of freshly made catfish pepper soup, bringing the week to a delightful close. Whenever men assemble, particularly on Friday evenings, you can bet that a bowl of catfish pepper soup, with a few drinks, will be present. Once you taste it, you’ll find yourself longing for more, as its flavor and taste are unique. It’s somewhat complex compared to other variations, but you sure can hack this. A critical aspect that people are always careful about is ensuring the fish remains intact, avoiding any disarray.
Cow Leg/Tail Pepper Soup: Typical Nigerian pepper soup, though not as common, has other variations but gives the cow flavor in pepper soup. This is the best option for those who love tough meat. Cow leg is a very tough meat and may take a while to cook.
What Are the Spices in Nigerian Pepper Soup?
African Nutmeg: A spice derived from the seeds of a tree native to some areas of Africa. It is popularly known as Calabash nutmeg. In Nigeria, it’s called “Ehuru” in Igbo, “Ariwo” in Yoruba, and “Gujiya dan Miya” by the Hausa people. It is known for its warm, aromatic flavor with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. African nutmeg is also valued for its medicinal properties and is used as a soup condiment.
Gbafilo: A medicinal herb known as rough-skinned, grey, or guinea plum.
Selim pepper: Also known by various names such as “Salem grains,” “Senegal pepper,” or “Ethiopia pepper,” is a spice derived from the fruits of the Selim tree native to different regions of Africa. In Nigeria, it is known as “Uda” in Igbo and “Peru” in Yoruba. It is often described as a blend of pepper, citrus, and smokiness. Selim pepper is commonly used in African stews, soups, sauces, and marinades, and it’s also recognized for its medicinal properties.
Tetrapleura tetraptera: known by various names in Nigerian languages such as “Aidan” in Yoruba, “Uyayak” in Efik, “lghimiakhie” in Benin, and “Ushio in Igbo” commonly called “prekese” or “Aidan fruit,” it produces large, pod-like fruits that contain seeds surrounded by a sweet-sour pulp. Moreover, in traditional medicine, different parts of the Tetrapleura tetraptera plant are used for their potential health benefits.
Umilo: Also called Omilo, it goes by various names like bush pepper, Guinea cubebs, and West African black peppers. In Nigerian local languages, it’s referred to as “Educa” in Ibibio, “Eti-Ankeny” in Efik, and “Uziza” in Igbo. The leaves and seeds are commonly used as seasoning, adding a peppery slightly spicy taste and a unique aroma.
Alligator pepper: Commonly known as “Atare” in Yoruba, it holds a significant place in Nigerian and West Africa. It derives its name from the appearance of its seeds, which look like the back of an alligator. It is used as a traditional remedy for various health issues like fibroids and gastrointestinal disorders.
How to Make Pepper Soup Spice
- First, gather all the different spices: African Nutmeg, Gbafilo, Selim Pepper, Tetrapleura tetraptera, Umilo, and Alligator Pepper.
- Break the African Nutmeg outer shell to get the seed. You can use a grinder or mortar and pestle to ground the seed into a fine powder. Do the same for Gbafilo. Crush the seeds well for the best taste.
- For Selim Pepper, take out the seeds from the pods. Grind the seeds until they become rough. This adds a smoky aroma to the mix.
- Grind Tetrapleura tetraptera, alligator pepper, and milo seeds until they become a fine powder.
- Put all the ground spices into a bowl. Mix them very well so that the flavors and smells are evenly spread out.
Your homemade Nigerian pepper soup spice is now ready to use. Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to preserve its freshness.
Pepper soup spice is a blend of these spices. It’s important to note that pepper soup spice is a major ingredient without which the preparation of pepper soup is incomplete. This spice is what gives pepper soup its unique taste. Other pre-packaged spices won’t give the taste and aroma you want.