By: Seki Bello Aakins

Bitter Leaf Soup, also known as Ofe Onugbu is a popular Nigerian soup. Bitter leaf Soup is peculiar to the Igbo tribe of Eastern Nigeria. A lot of non-Igbos shy away from bitter leaf soup (Well,  I did for the longest time) because they think that, true to it’s name, it is a very bitter soup. But they can’t be more wrong; Ofe Onugbu does not taste bitter in the slightest. The leaves have to be thoroughly washed to get rid of the bitterness before it’s added to the soup


  • Washed and cleaned bitterleaf
  • Assorted meat(beef, kpomo, goat meat, shaki)
  • Assorted fish (stockfish, dried fish, smoked fish)
  • Ground crayfish
  • Palm oil
  • Cocoyam (ede)
  • Seasoning cubes/liquid/powder (Maggi/Knorr)
  • Ogiri (local seasoning)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tips: before you start cooking, make sure that the bitter leaves has been thoroughly washed and no bitterness left. Can’t get rid of the bitterness? Simply boil the bitters leaves for about 15 times and rinse with cold water. Using dried bitterleaf? Soak in warm water to plump it up, rinse thoroughly to get rid of dirts.


  1. Wash and boil cocoyam till soft. Peel the skin off and pound in a mortar until it turns into smooth paste.
  2. Clean all the meat, season with salt and seasoning cubes – cook together with stock fish and dry fish until they are tender and thoroughly well done.
  3. Add ground crayfish and pepper. Stir and combine well. Add Palm oil, allow to cook until the oil is well combined with meat stock.
  4. Turn down the heat, add the cocoyam paste in small lumps. Stir easily and allow to simmer until the lumps are dissolved and well combined. The dissolved cocoyam mixture will start thickening the soup. Too thick? Add more water to loosen up if you feel that the soup is too thick – depending on your preference.
  5. Add the ogiri, stir and combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary (all the ingredients at this stage).
  6. Add bitter leaves, cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Your ofe onugbu soup is ready.
  7. Serve with your preferred swallow (garri/eba, semolina, fufu, amala, Cassava Fufu or pounded yam).
  8. Enjoy!