How to Cook Nigerian Vegetable Soup With Ugu

Nigerian vegetable soup, or edikaikong soup, is a traditional Nigerian soup made with assorted meats, seafood and vegetables and served with one of Nigeria's standard side dishes for soups and stews: ugi. Ugu is the name for the fluted pumpkin leaf, which is grown in Nigeria and other tropical African countries. The ugu leaf is also called ikong ubong and is sold in dried form in African food stores.

Periwinkles (shown here) and snails are important components in Nigerian vegetable soup. (Image: warongdech/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wash the assorted meats well under running water, and place the meats in a large soup or stew pot. Meats used in Nigerian vegetable soup include oxtail, beef, trip, goat and chicken.

Step 2

Add the medium onion and stock to the pot. Add the ground chillies or hot pepper to taste, if you desire, and cook the mixture over a medium heat for 30 minutes.

Step 3

Rinse the prepackaged snails and periwinkles well in cool, running water.

Step 4

Rinse the smoked dried fish well under running water, and place them in salt water for about 5 minutes to loosen dirt and kill insects. Rinse with cold water.

Step 5

Clean the other seafood ingredients by washing them under running water.

Step 6

Add the seafood ingredients to the pot, and cook on the stove over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add more stock to the pot if necessary.

Step 7

Rinse the ugu and waterleaf well, and use a knife to cut the leaves into thin strips.

Step 8

Add the ugu leaves and the waterleaf to the pot, stir to mix thoroughly, and allow the ingredients to simmer for 15 minutes.

Step 9

Add the crayfish, stir to mix the ingredients, and simmer for 10 minutes. If desired, add salt to taste and a few tablespoons of palm oil to the pot.

Step 10

Remove the pot from the heat, and serve.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 lbs. assorted meats

  • 1 medium onion

  • 2 cups stock

  • Hot pepper or chiles, ground, to taste

  • 4 snails, prepackaged

  • Lemon or lime juice

  • 1 lb. smoked, dried fish

  • 1 lb. stockfish, soaked overnight

  • 1 lb. periwinkles, prepackaged

  • 8 oz. whole dry prawns

  • 8 oz. ground crayfish

  • 3 lb. fresh ugu leaves, or 6 packs of dried ugu leaves

  • 2 1b. fresh waterleaf

  • Palm oil, optional

  • Salt, to taste


While you might be able to find fresh, or live, snails and periwinkles, the process to clean, remove them from the shells and prepare them for cooking is complicated. African food shops are the best place to find these nontraditional ingredients.

Serve edikaikong soup with pounded yam or fufu -- a paste made of ground cassava root -- rice or another side dish.

Clean the seafood ingredients using the packaging instructions if you have purchased the ingredients from a store. If you are using fresh ingredients or ingredients that are not ready-to-use, more extensive cleaning may be required. Prepackaged stockfish pieces do not require overnight soaking to soften.

Some edikaikong soup ingredients are difficult to find in the United States. Some ingredients, including crayfish and other seafood, can be purchased in dried form from African food stores. Substitute collard greens for ugu or spinach for waterleaf.

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