Oha Soup, popularly referred to as Ofe Oha by the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria is an absolutely delicious traditional soup recipe. Oha soup isn’t exactly a go-to kind of soup because the main ingredient, Oha leaves, is a seasonal one. Traditionally, the leaves are shredded by hand and not with a knife or any other sharp object cos rumour has it that if the leaves are chopped with a knife, the soup will end up bitter. I’ve never tried it and I never intend to, Oha leaves are too precious and hard to source to mess about with.
Oha Soup is traditionally thickened with Cocoyam though Achi or Ofor can also be used.
The people of Anambra prepare their Oha soup with Akwu (raw palm kernel oil) while the people of Imo state use Palm oil. I’ll be using Palm oil. Let’s cook!
Assorted meats (Beef, goat meat, Ponmo, Shaki are ideal)
2 Cooking Spoon Palm oil
1 Bunch Oha leaves
Handful Uziza Leaves or 1 Teaspoon ground Uziza seeds
3-4 Medium size Cocoyam (Ede)
Stockfish, the head especially (Okporoko)
4 Tablespoons Ground Crayfish
1 Tablespoon Ogiri Igbo
2-3 Yellow Scotch Bonnet
2 Maggi Crayfish
Salt to taste
These are the Oha and Uziza leaves. Ignore the state of the Oha leaves, these are pure gold in obodo oyinbo…?
Soak and wash your Stockfish and Smoked fish with hot water to remove all traces of dirt, then set aside…
Start by boiling your meats, start with the tougher meats like Cow leg, Shaki first, also add the Stockfish. Add the Maggi crayfish and salt to taste, leave to cook till soft….
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…
When the cocoyams 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 till smooth, then set aside…
Blend your yellow scotch bonnet peppers and set aside…
When the meats are soft, add the smoked fish and blended pepper, leave to combine for 5 minutes. You should end up with at least 4 cups of rich stock, if you don’t, add more water and seasoning if needed…
You may want to remove the Smoked fish at this time if you don’t want it to disintegrate in the soup…
Add the Palm Oil….
And the crayfish and combine…
Allow to boil for 6-8 minutes or until the oil is fully incorporated into the stock, then add the blended Cocoyam into the stock in small dollops, be careful not to add too much. The consistency should be semi fluid, though I prefer my slightly thick. Taste for salt/seasoning and adjust if necessary…
The Cocoyam will dissolve; thickening the soup, leave to fully dissolve and combine for 5-6 minutes, then add the Ogiri, leave for a minute then add the washed and chopped Uziza leaves or Uziza seeds, leave for a minute then add the Oha leaves, switch the heat off and leave to simmer with the residual heat for 2-3 minutes…
My Oha Leaves weren’t enough, hence the scantiness. Took nothing away from the taste though….