Bitter Leaf Soup – Ofe Onugbu

Bitter Leaf Soup, also known as Ofe Onugbu is a popular Nigerian soup. Bitter leaf Soup is peculiar to the Igbo tribe of Eastern Nigeria. A lot of non-Igbos shy away from bitter leaf soup (Well,  I did for the longest time) because they think that, true to it’s name, it is a very bitter soup. But they can’t be more wrong; Ofe Onugbu does not taste bitter in the slightest. The leaves have to be thoroughly washed to get rid of the bitterness before it’s added to the soup.

I love, love Ofe Onugbu, it’s my second favourite Igbo soup, it’s right after the glorious Ofe Owerri. Ofe Akwu comes third.


Let’s cook!



Assorted meats (Beef, goat meat, Ponmo, Shaki are ideal)

2 Cooking Spoon Palm oil

1 Cup Bitter leaves (Fresh or Dried)

3-4 Medium Size Cocoyam (Ede)

2 Smoked Fish (Optional)

2-3 Stockfish (Optional)

3 Tablespoons Ground Crayfish

1 Tablespoon Ogiri Okpei

3 Tablespoons Ground Dry pepper or 2 Scotch Bonnet blended

2 Bouillon Cubes

Salt to taste


Start by boiling your meats, start with the tougher meats like Cow leg and Shaki first. When they’re slightly tender, add beef or other softer meats. When all the meats are tender, add the Stockfish, leave to cook till soft….

Do not add Onions, Curry or Thyme!

bitter leaf soup 2

While the meats are boiling, boil the Cocoyam with the skin on. Do not add salt, boil till tender, this should take roughly 20 minutes on medium heat…

bitter leaf soup 1

When they are soft, gently peel the skin off and pound till smooth in a mortar. Alternatively, chop them into small chunks and purée in your electric blender or food processor till smooth, then set aside…

bitter leaf soup 4

Wash the Bitter leaves with hot water to get rid of as much bitterness as you can. There should be almost no hint of bitterness left in the leaves after washing.

Sisi’s Tip: If you find yourself struggling to get rid of the bitterness, simply boil the leaves with enough water for 15 times, then rinse with cold water. 

If you’re using dried Bitter leaves, you’ll need to soak in warm water to plump it up and also get rid of dirt…

bitter leaf soup 3

When the Meats and Fish are all soft, add Crayfish, smoked Prawns, then add the ground or blended pepper. Stir and combine…

bitter leaf soup 5

Add Palm oil, leave to thoroughly combine for 3-4 minutes….

bitter leaf soup

Now, turn the heat done to low, add the blended Cocoyam into the stock in small dollops, be careful not to add too much. The consistency should be semi fluid….

bitter leaf soup

The Cocoyam will dissolve; thickening the soul, leave to dissolve and combine for 2-3 minutes.

The thickness will depend on your preference. Ofe Onugbu is light and semi fluid though some role prefer it thick and creamy. I like mine Somewhat in between.

Then add the Ogiri, stir and combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary…

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Then add the washed Bitter Leaves, leave to cook for 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook your vegetables…

bitter leaf soup

And it’s done….

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Serve with your preferred swallow…

Bitter leaf soup

bitter leaf soup

bitter leaf soup


So, will you be giving this Bitter leaf soup recipe a try? will be waiting to find out how you got on. See you soon…


19 thoughts on “Bitter Leaf Soup – Ofe Onugbu

  1. I just made this and it tastes so good. Thank you Sisi for simplifying the steps in all the food preparation you have posted. You are among the best.

    • Sorry for the late response, Thank you!! Glad the recipe worked out great for you, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a feedback…x

  2. Thanks for the recipe, tried it and it was spot on. I am not Igbo,neither is my husband. You are good at what you do. This is the second recipe i am gettinh from your blog. Keep it up! Thanks once more

    • Traditionally Ofe Onugbu is thickened with Cocoyam.,You can use yam if you wish to but you don’t achieve the flavour. Try Achi though..l

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