Utazi soup, Ofe Utazi
Utazi soup, Ofe Utazi is made with Utazi leaf which is bitter and best known for being used in pepper soup to give it a slightly bitter note. Really, utazi leaf is much more than that, it has its own distinct flavour and that is what you harness for this soup.
A sizable quantity of utazi is needed to flavour the soup, this invariably will produce a very bitter soup if used as it is. You will need to wash off some of the bitterness from the leaves before use.
Palm nut juice or extract (banga) is normally used for utazi soup, ofe utazi but if you can’t get either the fresh or tinned one, you can use palm oil. This, though, is the same as the difference between an original LV bag and a knock off. Palm nut juice doesn’t serve as a thickener in this soup so you really don’t use much. Palm nut juice can also be used in cooking ora soup, onugbu soup, banga soup, egusi soup, ofe akwu, stew akwu etc.
To prepare Utazi Soup, Ofe utazi:
2 cups processed Palm nut juice (extract) Utazi leaves (enough to squeeze into 1/2 cup) 1 slice of yam Beef Stockfish Dry fish 3 cups water + stock 2 tablespoons ground crayfish 3g-5g Okpei 2 scotch bonnet (fresh pepper) 2 seasoning cubes 1/2 teaspoon salt
Wash, boil, pound and extract the juice from the palm nut. Complete guide here.
Pour into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until it has thickened to the consistency of melted ice-cream. Take off the heat and set aside or you can use the canned palm nut juice extract.
The utazi leaves can be processed in two ways:
- Wash the leaves, place in a bowl, and add very little water. Rub between your hands till it breaks up and starts releasing it juices.
- The other way is to place the leaves in a blender with a little water and pulse about 3-4 times. Empty into a bowl and squeeze and rub.
The water will turn deep green, rinse and strain with a very fine sieve.
Squeeze and rub again, rinse and strain. Do this several times over till the water is no longer deep green. It all depends on how much of the bitterness you want to retain.
Squeeze out the water and set aside.
If you want the utazi to be stringy and very visible in the soup, don’t use the blender.
Peel and cut the slice of yam into cubes. Wash and place in a small pot with water and boil till tender.
Strain off the water and pound with a mortar and pestle, potato masher or food processor till it comes together into a smooth, lump-free gluey mash.
Wash your meat and stockfish, place in a pot, season with salt and seasoning cube and boil till tender.
Soak the dry fish in boiling hot water for 2 minutes, drain and rinse properly with cold water.
Add to the pot of boiling meat and boil for 5 minutes.
Add enough water to make up a total of 3 cups including the meat stock already in the pot. Add 2 cups of palm nut extract and bring to a boil.
Add ground crayfish, crushed okpei, ground pepper and seasoning cubes, stir and taste, add salt. Boil for about 5 minutes, stirring intermittently.
Add the pounded yam in tablespoon sized lumps and keep boiling, once it thickens, remove any undissolved lumps of yam. (The pounded yam lumps on its own is a delicacy for the chef).
Taste and correct seasoning of the Utazi soup if needed.
Add the processed utazi stir and boil for 5 minutes and it is done.
Serve with any swallow of your choice, eg., garri, pounded yam, oatmeal, semovita etc.
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