Ofe Nsala – White Soup is a mouth watering delicacy peculiar to the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, especially the people of Anambra state. It is a very rich fresh fish soup, traditionally made with Catfish. Efik people have their own version of White Soup, it’s known as Afia Efere.
Ofe Nsala is known as white soup because Palm oil is not used for the preparation, unlike other traditional soups.
The proper thickener used for Ofe Nsala is pounded yam but if you can’t source fresh yam, you can use Achi, yam flour or Cocoyam. If you’re thinking of using Cocoyam, do remember Cocoyam has a slimy consistency and this will affect the consistency of your soup. Also, if you have problems sourcing Utazi or Uziza, you can do without them. I couldn’t get the fresh leaves, had to settle for dried ones. I’ve made Ofe Nsala in the past without vegetables and they turned out just as yum although frankly, Uziza does add a very pleasant aroma and hotness to the the soup.
Although Catfish and other types of fishes are traditionally used for Ofe Nsala, I find it tastier with hard/ old Chicken, Goat meat and even Smoked Turkey added so feel free to add other proteins of your choosing, especially if you’re not big on fresh fish.
500gms Assorted Meat or Chicken (if you’re using any)
1 Medium Size Fresh Fish (Preferably Catfish)
2-3 Pieces of Stockfish/Panla ( preferably the head)
1 Medium Size Smoked fish
1 Tablespoon Crayfish
2 Tablespoons Dry Ground Pepper or 3 Fresh Yellow Atarodo
1 Small Chunk of Ogiri Okpei/Dawadawa
2-3 Tablespoons Uziza Leaves OR
1 Tablespoon Utazi or Both
2 Calabash Nutmeg seed (Ehuru)
1 Uda pod
1 Teaspoon Uziza seeds (If you can’t source Ehuru, Uda or Uziza seeds, just use 2 tablespoons pepper soup spice)
4 Medium Slices of Yam
2 Knorr Cubes
Salt to taste
These are the spices I’ll be using, Dawadawa/Ogiri, Ehuru(Calabash nutmeg) and Uziza seeds, I’m using pre-ground Uda….
Pound/grind the Uziza seeds and Ehuru and Uda in a dry mill till smooth and set aside…
I’ll be using Catfish, Smoked fish and Stockfish.
Wash and slice your Utazi and Uziza, if you’re using dried leaves, soak them to remove traces of dirt and to revive them a bit.
Place a pot on a hob on medium heat, add the Stockfish,or tough meats if you’re using any and water to cover. My Stockfish was really tough so I’m starting with this. Add 1 Knorr cube, 1 tablespoon ground pepper and the crayfish and salt to taste. If you’re using fresh yellow Atarodo, blend coarsely and add. Cook till the Stockfish is tender.
Do check from time to time and top up with water when necessary, I had to add more water to mine at least 3 times.
While that’s cooking, boil the yam till soft….. Then pound in a mortar or just use your blender or food processor, set aside…
I added more hot water than normal to my yam so the consistency wouldn’t be too thick and would dissolve faster…
When it’s tender, add the ground Uziza seeds, Uda and Ehuru or Pepper Soup spice, also add the rest of the Crayfish, dissolve the Ogiri/ Dawadawa in water and add, boil for a further 2 minutes…
Now, add the fresh fish and cleaned smoked fish. Reduce the heat to low, cook for 7-10 minutes…
Take the fresh fish out afterwards, you may wish to shred your cooked Stockfish at this time and add back into the broth, I just prefer mine left in wholely. Now, add more water to the broth depending on the quantity of soup you require.
Taste for seasoning, Add the 2nd Knorr cube if needed, be careful when adding salt as your broth already contain salt.
Now, add the pounded yam or your referred thickener. If you’re using Achi, mix with water before adding, this is to prevent your soup from being lumpy. Give the contents a good stir and leave to cook till the yam is completely dissolved, this should take 8-10 minutes …
The consistency of your Ofe Nsala will depend on your preference, I like mine slightly fluid, just like this;
Add the fresh fish back into the pot, rock the pot gently to combine, this is so you don’t break the fish using a spoon…
Now add the washed Utazi or Uziza or both.
Be careful when adding Utazi as its quite bitter, too much will make your soup really bitter and inedible. You can also add more leaves than I did, I just don’t particularly like Ofe Nsala too leafy.
Turn the heat off and leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes. And it’s done….
Enjoy with your favourite swallow or just on its own like you would, fresh fish pepper soup….