Bitter leaf Soup (Ofe Onugbu)

- Advertisement -
One of Nigeria’s most traditional soups is bitter leaf soup (ofe onugbu). It is indigenous to the Eastern Nigerians (Igbos).
The aftermath of combining the ingredients required to make this meal is worthy of relishing. Yes, the leaves used to prepare this dish are quite bitter when eaten raw or even tasted. But a proper soup made of those bitter leaves could be one of the best things that happened to your taste.
bitter leaf soup recipe 3
Image Credit: Facebook

What Is Bitter Leaf?

Bitter leaf, also known as Vernonia amygdalina, is a plant with a variety of health advantages and a strong, bitter flavor. The Igbos call bitter leaf Onugbu, the Yorubas call it Ewuro, and the Hausas name it Shuwaka.

Why Is It Called Bitter Leaf?

When you taste bitter leaf, it is just what the name implies: bitter. It is not eaten in its raw bitter form since it is unpleasant, but it is rinsed multiple times until the “bitterness” is much diminished.
However, the bitterness is never completely washed away; you can still detect undertones of bitterness when eating this soup. It takes some getting accustomed to, same to how you get acclimated to apple cider vinegar or lime.

Where Can I Get Bitter Leaf From?

Bitter leaf is very easy to come by in some African countries, such as Nigeria, and you may buy it from the market or grow it yourself. If you live in a place where bitter leaf isn’t grown, the easiest way to get it is to buy it frozen from an African store if one is nearby.

The advantage of buying bitter leaf frozen is that it has already been thoroughly rinsed, reducing bitterness and cutting prep time in half.

What Is The Best Way To Keep Washed Bitter Leaf Fresh?

Bitter leaf should be kept frozen for long-term storage. After you’ve rinsed it, press out as much water as possible and store it in a freezer container.

What is The Benefit Of Bitter Leaf Soup?

Bitter leaf is very popular in Nigeria and parts of Africa, not only because it is cheap and readily available but also because of its numerous health benefits.

African bitter leaf is used to treat malaria, help lower blood pressure, and treat gut and abdominal issues.

Taking bitter leaf soup may help soften your stool and relieve constipation. Because of extra fiber, and compounds present in the leaf. Bitter leaf has a positive in influence on blood pressure, thanks to the high level of potassium it contains.
bitter leaf soup
Image Credit: Facebook

How Do You Reduce Bitterness in Bitter Leaf Soup?

Bitter leaf is bitter by nature, thus it must be carefully cleansed before eating. Add the leaves to a big basin of water with a pinch of salt. Scrub the leaves with your hands and rinse when the water becomes frothy. Carry on like way until the water is clear.

What Can I Eat Bitter Leaf Soup With?

This nutritious African soup is commonly eaten with fufu but you can also eat it with;

Storing And Reheating

Bitter leaf soup stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days, and you can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
To reheat, warm it on the stove with a little water. If previously frozen, let it thaw overnight in the fridge first.

Notes On Ingredients

  • If you are outside Nigeria, you can use dried, washed, and squeezed bitter leaves to make bitter leaf soup (ofe onugbu) but you need to, first of all, make the bitter leaves soft and fresh again before adding them to the soup.
  • If you cannot buy cocoyam corms where you live, you can use cocoyam flour. An alternative to cocoyam flour is potato flour. See how to prepare the cocoyam flour or potato flour before adding it to your soup.
  • Ogiri Igbo is optional, it gives Bitter leaf Soup a traditional taste.
bitter leaf soup recipe

Bitter leaf Soup (Ofe Onugbu)

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • Washed and squeezed bitter leaf
  • A handful Cocoyam
  • 3 cooking spoons 3 cooking spoons Red Palm Oil
  • Assorted Beef: Includes best cut, shaki (cow tripe)Assorted Fish: Dry Fish and Stock Fish
  • Pepper, salt, and ground crayfish (to taste)
  • 3 stock cubes
  • 1 tsp Ogiri Igbo (traditional seasoning)


Before Preparation

  • Make sure that the bitter leaves are well washed, such that there is no trace of bitterness left. If not, wash and squeeze it more.
  • If the bitterness cannot be completely washed off (which is usually the case with most washed bitter leaves sold in the market), boil it for about 15 minutes and wash it in cold water.
  • Wash and cook the cocoyam till soft.
  • Remove the peels and use a mortar and pestle to pound the corms into a smooth paste.


  • Boil the shaki (cow tripe), stockfish, and dry fish in 1 liter of water till they are well done. The first sign of a done shaki is that the cuts will start curling on themselves.
  • Wash the beef and add to the pot of shaki etc. and continue cooking.
  • When the meat is done, add 3 cubes of Maggi/Knorr and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add pepper, ground crayfish, bitter leaves (if they have not been parboiled) and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Then add the cocoyam paste (in small lumps) and the palm oil.
  • Note: If the bitter leaves were parboiled to remove the bitterness, then for step 4; add pepper, ground crayfish, the cocoyam paste (in small lumps), the bitter leaves, and the palm oil. In other words, add all the ingredients at this stage.
  • Cover the pot and leave to cook on high heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved.
  • Add salt to taste and the soup is ready.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Share this post:

Must Try Recipes

You'll also love