Nsala Soup

Nsala soup, ofe nsala, white soup

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.

Rich and mouth watering nsala soup

It is cooked by the people of the riverine areas in south-south and eastern Nigeria. That is why the staple protein for this soup is the Catfish straight from the sea.

In Igboland in Nigeria, Nsala soup is usually cooked for a new nursing mother by her own mother who cares for her for the first 4 weeks post-childbirth, this is the Omugwo period. She serves her this soup with pounded yam.

Cooked and eaten up the same day, Nsala is not a soup that keeps well. It can be prepared using most types of meat and fish especially fresh fish, goat, sheep, beef, chicken (the tough type), dry fish etc, but not lamb or pork. I am using goat meat (Chevon) in this soup.

cooked goat meat for nsala soup

No oil is used in making Nsala, that is why it is called white soup. I normally add 1-2 tablespoons of palm oil for added flavour, but this is purely optional.

Yam is the thickener of choice just like in utazi soup. Also, ogili okpei or ogili isi are interchangeable for nsala soup. I use either one but ogili okpei is more commonly used.  I have enjoyed nsala made with cow entrails (assorted meat) and ogili isi, it was exceptional.


To prepare Nsala Soup, ofe nsala, white soup

300g Goat meat
dry fish
2 seasoning cube
250g yam, cubed
6 cups stock + water
1/2 cup+2 tablespoons ground crayfish
scotch bonnet (fresh pepper)
8g Ogili okpei or 5g Ogili isi
1/4 teaspoon ground uziza seed
5g uziza leaves
8g utazi leaves 
1 tablespoon palm oil (optional)

Wash meat and stockfish, put in a pot and season with seasoning cubes and salt. Add water and boil till almost tender.

Place yam cubes in a small pot and boil till soft.

yam cube for thickening nsala soup

Pound with mortar and pestle, Potato masher or food processor, to get a thick paste.

Soak dry fish in boiling hot water for 2 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water. Remove bones and add to the boiling meat. Boil until meat is tender.

Add enough water to the stock to make up to 6 cups.

Add crayfish, pepper, ogili okpei and ground uziza seed. Stir and add yam in big lumps.

pounded yam in pot of nsala soup

Add palm oil, if using, cook until soup thickens.

nsala soup bubbling away

If there are still lumps of yam remaining when the soup has thickened, remove them (chef’s delicacy).

left over pounded yam for thickening nsala soup

Shred uziza and utazi leaves, add to the soup.

pot of nsala soup

Cook for 3 minutes and take off the heat.

Rich and mouth watering nsala soup

Serve with pounded yam or any swallow of your choice.


  • If you don’t have yam:
  1. You can use yam powder. Mix with a little hot water into a thick paste and drop into the soup at the time you should have added pounded yam.
  2. You can also use all-purpose flour. Mix with a little room temperature water into a thick slurry. Stir the soup as you pour it in to avoid lumps. Add it when adding utazi and uziza, cook out the rawness.
  3. I have not tried cornflour yet, so I don’t know how it will taste.
  • Garri as a swallow should be a last resort. It is too rough for this type of soup.

You will also enjoy my Ofe ukpom (Anala soup), Goat Meat pepper soup, Ofe utazi and African breadfruit soup (Ukwa soup).

Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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  3. Chiamaka Nwankwo

    I like the way you described it very straight to the point.

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