This vegan egusi soup will probably last you less than two days, it's that good.
I grew up not liking egusi soup, in fact I only started loving it when I became plant-based. My mother is an avid fan of egusi. Egusi is number 1 on her soup list with abula soup being in close second. With that said, I grew up with egusi always in our meal rotation, however, I always opted out by eating my fufu with ila (okra soup), or ewedu (jute leave soup).
Fast forward to my plant-based days, my mother made me a batch of mushroom egusi soup and I was immediately hooked by the smokey, rich, and nutty flavors of the egusi mixed with the savoriness of the peppers. Add the umami flavors of the eru. MAN, I can't wait for you to try this vegan egusi soup. It is time-consuming, but oh so worth it.
🌍 Where Does Egusi Seeds Come From?
Fun Fact: Egusi seeds are harvested from an inedible gourd.
Correction - the gourd can be eaten, however (big however), the inside flesh is often bitter and not the sweetest. I'm sure you can make a dish with the flesh. But, back to the star of the show: Egusi seeds.
Egusi gourd is similar in appearance to a small watermelon, with the inside similar to a pumpkin or kabocha squash. It is harvested year-round in parts of Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and Sierra Leonne. Egusi means melon in Igbo and Yoruba. Other names for egusi are ibara, agushi, guna shanu, ikopoghiri and neri niri.
The egusi seeds are removed from the gourd, air dried, then dehusked. You end up with smooth beige seeds. Although pumpkin seeds have a similar shape to egusi seeds, these two seeds are not the same and are not interchangable.
Egusi must be cooked/fried thoroughly before consuming, I recommend at least simmering for 40mins to an hour before consuming. Not to worry, this recipe cooks the egusi for a while.
Botanical Name: Cucumeropsis Mannii
🥣 Prepping to Make Your Vegan Egusi Soup
The French call is mise in place - meaning to put in place. Egusi soup is considered a difficult dish to master and I believe that is attributed to the number of steps needed to be completed before actually making the dish. Here's everything you need to do in no particular order before combining them all:
- Blend whole egusi
- Mix egusi with stock
- Steam/boil okazi leaves, squeeze out excess water
- Blend peppers, onions
- Defrost frozen spinach, squeeze out excess water
- Rinse eru (dawadawa/locust beans)
- Make veggie stock (if you do not have store-bought)
Ways to Enjoy Your Vegan Egusi Soup
Egusi is a versatile side dish. I often eat it with something else. My favorite is fufu, like plantain fufu with obe ata as a garnish. At parties, people often eat egusi with jollof rice with plantains. You can even enjoy the soup as is, the options are limitless.
Store in any container for up to 7 days in the fridge, or freeze for up to a month in the freezer.
- Be sure to prep before starting to cook your egusi soup. Egusi soup requires a lot of attention, it is important that you get the tedious tasks out of the way.
- Cook egusi for at least 30-45 minutes before serving. Egusi can cause stomach upset if not cooked properly
- 2 cups of dry okazi leaves
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 medium onion
- 1 habanero pepper
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of eru
- 2 lbs of frozen chopped spinach
- 1 cup of egusi
- 5 tablespoons of stock
- Create veggie stock if you do not have any on hand (otherwise boxed veggie stock works just as well).
- Prep okazi leaves by boiling 2 cups of water with baking soda
- Blitz dry egusi seeds in a blender or spice grinder until you form a powder, you may need to shake the container a couple of times for an even powder.
- Combine a tiny bit of veggie stock with the blended egusi to form a thick paste.
- Rinse eru (locust seeds/dawadawa) removing any excess debris
- Blend bell peppers, onions, and habanero until smooth.
- Heat a heavy-based pot with 1 cup of vegetable oil
- Pour in blended pepper, onion, and habanero pepper, add vegetable bullion, fry for 10 minutes or until oil begins to peak through, add more oil for a deeper fry
- Add eru and let fry for 1 minute
- Add egusi and stock mixture into the stew and let fry for 15 minutes, stirring constantly
- Add mushroom and let fry for 10 minutes, continuing to stir
- Add one cup of stock to deglaze the pot, fry for 5 more minutes
- Crumble in ozaki and chopped spinach. Add 1 cup stock. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve with rice, fufu, or alone.
Be sure to prep before starting to cook the soup. Egusi soup requires a lot of attention, it is important that you get the tedious tasks out of the way.
Cook egusi for at least 45 to an hour before serving. Egusi can cause stomach upset if not cooked properly