Anala Soup, Ofe ukpom
My first knowledge of Anala soup, Ofe ukpom was from a conversation between my mother and my paternal grandmother. They had both just devoured two bowls of some soup and were talking about how they couldn’t taste salt in any other thing they ate subsequently. Furthermore, the soup barely contained any delicacy, which is highly unusual for Nigerian soups. They were laughing and enjoying whatever it was they were feeling. I, on the other hand, who couldn’t care less about food at the time, decided within me that that soup will never ever cross my lips. Fast forward 12-13 years, I got married and my Renaissance man happens to love…exactly ofe ukpom, unbelievable.
Ukpom, by the way, is an igbo word for a state of poverty, so Ofe ukpom is literarily, Poverty soup.
Anala soup, Ofe ukpom is a vegetable soup thickened with cocoyam paste. It has a very mild, slightly bitter taste Originally, it was cooked with just 4 ingredients, anala leaf, palm oil, cocoyam paste and ogili isi, with anala (garden egg/eggplant) leaves being the star ingredient.
This modern version has a little of other ingredients that take it mega notches to a complete state of deliciousness and it is as healthy as they come. Just keep it as simple as possible, over burdening Ofe Ukpom with ingredients will be a disservice because it is basically a type of internal cleanser.
- When buying garden egg leaves make sure it’s not the type that has prominent hairs, that type is quite bitter.
- Anala leaf is delicate and doesn’t stay fresh for long.
- It also has a high water content, so you need a lot of leaves for a small pot of soup, because once it wilts in the soup, the quantity will reduce significantly.
To prepare Anala soup, Ofe Ukpom;
Dry fish (scant quantity) 1 cup Processed cocoyam 6 tablespoons palm oil 1 tablespoon crayfish 5g ogili isi 1 seasoning cube 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 scotch bonnet (fresh pepper) 250g anala leaves (garden egg leaves)
Pick and wash the anala leaves several times in plenty of water. Set aside.
Soak dry fish in boiling hot water for 2 minutes, drain and rinse well in cold water.
Put the fish in a pot and add about 4 cups of water, season with a little salt. Set over medium high heat and boil for 5 minutes.
Add the cocoyam paste and palm oil to the pot of fish.
Cook until the soup thickens, and you get a homogenous soup.
Add crayfish, ogili isi, seasoning cube, salt and pepper. Stir and reduce the heat to medium low. Boil for 5 minutes.
Coarsely shred the anala leaves and add to the pot of boiling soup, stir intermittently.
The leaves might seem to be much but anala leaf wilts once it comes in contact with heat and releases water. So what this means is that the thickened soup will get a little thinner, which is desirable.
Cook for about 3 minutes and take off the heat. Your healthy Anala soup is ready.
It can be eaten with or without any swallow or with agidi (eko).