Igbo soups are rich, nutritious, wholesome, hearty, and very delicious. The Igbo tribe (Ndi Igbo) is concentrated in the southeastern region of Nigeria. They live in the rainforest region of the country and are very industrious and resourceful. Although many are highly educated in different professions, they are mainly known for trading and farming. The staple food amongst the Igbos is yam and cassava, although nowadays, rice is replacing yam in popularity.
Typically, the main meal of the day which can be either lunch or supper will include a soup or stew and a ‘starch’. The Igbos do not joke with their soup, it is the signature dish for every woman. In fact, a woman’s culinary ability is judged by how tasty her soup is and affluence is displayed by how rich her soup is. Rich, meaning the variety, size and quality of the proteins in the soup. A woman of affluence might even be addressed by her peers as Oji azu eme uli meaning a woman who uses smoke-dried fish to thicken her soups as against the usual thickeners which are cheap cocoyam, ukpo, achi or ofo.
Igbo soups always contain some type of vegetable or herb. Ofe means Soup and is usually followed by the key ingredient or vegetable when naming the soup.
For more Igbo soups see below. Please suggest more Igbo soups in the comments, thanks.
The following are soups that are peculiar to Igbos- Igbo Soups:
Onugbu Soup (Bitter-leaf Soup)
There is nothing delicate or pretentious about Bitter leaf soup (Onugbu soup). It is a full-bodied soup that will take your tastebuds on a gratifying dining trip. Bitter leaf soup is an icon of Igbo cuisine, especially to the Anambra-Igbos. It is an embodiment of who they are…Bold and resilient. it is made with bitter-leaf and usually thickened with cocoyam. Click for the recipe.
Ofe Ora (Ora Soup)
Ora soup (oha, uha) is another staple soup. Ora leaves are so soft and delicate that raw silk clothes were once nicknamed oha. It is thickened with Cocoyam paste. This soup has so many dos and don’ts or old wives’ tales woven around it. Click for the recipe.
Ofe Owerri is a community symbol of the Owerri people and their environs. They are so proud of this rich and expensive soup that songs have been rendered about it. To make Ofe Owerri for your guests is a thing of pride because it represents affluence and you are also judged by the quantity and quality of the ingredients used.
A thickened soup made with very finely shredded okazi vegetable, Ofe Owerri is a soup that is eaten up the same day, so no matter how much you spent, it all goes with that one pot of soup. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Anala (AnalaSoup/Ofe Ukpom)
Ukpom, by the way, is an Igbo word for a state of poverty, so Ofe ukpom is literally, 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 few other ingredients that take it mega notches to a complete state of deliciousness and it is as healthy as they come. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Utazi (Utazi Soup)
Palm-nut juice or extract (banga) is used in the preparation of Utazi soup but if you can’t get either the fresh or tinned palm nut extract, you can use palm oil. Palm-nut juice doesn’t serve as a thickener in this soup so you really don’t use much rather it is thickened with pounded yam. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Awa (Awa Soup)
Ofe awa, Awa soup is made with Awa leafy vegetable. It is native to the people of Nkanu in Enugu area of Igboland. I seriously wonder why the popularity of this soup hasn’t crossed the boundaries of this enclave. Ofe Awa (Awa soup) is so finger-licking good, the problem is, the vegetable is very seasonal. It is bountiful deep into the rainy season.
Awa soup should be given a special place in the pantheons of Nigerian soups honestly. It is a special soup served to in-laws when they visit. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Ugu (Ugu Soup)
Ofe Ugu is not a very common soup which is surprising given that it really really tastes good. The ingredients for Ugu soup is like a relationship where opposites attract or somebody tried to pull a joke because the soup has all the trappings of a typical sturdy Igbo soup but then a light-hearted ugu vegetable is added. Like most Nigerian vegetable soups, the ugu vegetable still has to retain its freshness in the soup. Click here for the recipe.
Akparata is basically a thickener just like ofo, achi etc. but rather than take the name of the vegetable used in cooking it just like a regular Igbo soup, the soup is named after the thickener. There are different vegetables that can be added to this soup eg. Uziza, ora, anala and ugu. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Nsala (Nsala Soup)
Ofe Nsala, White Soup is basically thickened pepper soup. That thickener blends and binds the flavours of the ingredients so well, that it takes the soup from the ordinary to the extraordinary… talk about synergy.
Nsala soup should not be eaten with any utensils, just use your fingers for maximum satisfaction. Only thing is, you might find yourself mindlessly sucking on your fingers as you enjoy your well-cooked Nsala soup. The most common protein used in preparing Nsala soup is fresh catfish. It is most prevalent amongst Onitsha people, Ogbaru and environs, mostly the coastal towns along the River Niger. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Okazi (Okazi Soup)
Okazi soup is a thickened vegetable soup from eastern Nigeria. It is similar to Ofe Owerri, the main difference being that Ofe Owerri is thickened with cocoyam (Owerri court), while Okazi soup is thickened with achi, ukpo or ofo. Each thickener has its own peculiar flavour. Ofo is my favourite, while achi is my least favourite. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Ugba (Ugba Soup)
Ofe ugba is a speciality of the people of Owerri and Mbaise of Imo state. It is variously called Ofe ugba, Ugba soup, Ofe Ukpaka, Okwuru ugba, and is simply okro soup with ugba (Ukpaka, processed oil bean seed), but you don’t just throw ugba into your Okro soup and call it Ugba soup, there is a process. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Ugbogoro (Ugbogoro Soup)
Ofe ugbogoro (melon leaf soup) is an Igbo soup from eastern Nigeria. It is super fresh and clean tasting and usually a one day soup. In order to enjoy Ofe Ugbogoro and take full advantage of the freshness of the vegetables, it is best to eat it once it comes off the heat. Click here for the recipe.
Ofe Akwu (Palm-nut Soup)
Ofe akwu is made from palm nut extract. Palm-nut soup is very popular in many countries where the palm nut tree grows, in the southeast and south-south/delta regions of Nigeria, it is ingrained in their cuisine. Variously called ofe akwu, palm nut soup, banga soup, abak atama, obe eyin etc., this particular variation is made by the Igbo. It is a staple of my people from Nnewi. It is normally eaten with well-cooked soft white rice. Click here for the recipe.
The following are soups also prepared by Igbos – Igbo Soups:
The following soups are not peculiar to Igbos because they are universal to almost every tribe in Nigeria. Each tribe prepare them in their own peculiar way.
Ofe Ogbono (Ogbono Soup)
MORE IGBO SOUPS BELOW.
Ofe Okwulu (Okro Soup)
Ofe Egusi (Egusi Soup)
MORE IGBO SOUPS BELOW.
Igbo soups are served with a choice of any swallow the most popular being cassava (akpu), Pounded yam (nri ji), Garri and Cocoyam (Utala Ede). You can also use semovita, ground rice, wheat, oats, fufu, cornmeal etc.
If I have left out any soup please let me know in the comments section especially soup that is peculiar within a locality.
If you like my 13 Easy Igbo soups, you will also enjoy my 12 Nigerian dishes everyone should know how to cook, 10 common Nigerian breakfast dishes, 12 Awesome dishes made with leftover rice and 10 Safety tips for the kitchen, kitchen safety tips.
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Thanks for making me a better cook
This is why I do this. I can relate.
God bless the day I came across you 🥰
Hi Loretta, God bless you too most abundantly.