Among the Igbo speaking people of Nigeria, Ofe Owerri is about the most popular soup which is held in very high esteem.
Though there has been a serious debate where the soup originally emanates from, the Igbos of Imo State usually lay claim to Ofe Owerri while other Igbos in the south-eastern parts of the country have also laid claim to it at various times.
Whoever owns the soup, let us tell you that Ofe Owerri is a highly nutritious vegetable soup usually flavoured with aromatic Uha leaves.
And for an average Igbo man, the soup is a special delicacy and is often prepared on special occasions.
Ofe Owerri is usually prepared with two different vegetables namely Uziza and Ugu or Uziza and Ukazi.
Uziza helps a lot to prevent allergy and running nose; those who do not eat hot spices can benefit a lot from the use of Uziza to prevent or cure their running nose.
Ugu (Pumpkin) leaf is reputed to be highly rich in dietary iron, calcium and magnesium. Research has shown that this vegetable has great antioxidant capacities, helping to restore any damage to our cells and skin, protecting our heart and enhancing youth.
It also protects against liver damage.
Another unique ingredient used in the preparation of Ofe Owerri is the Cocoyam. Cocoyam is a class in the category of tubers, which are known for the fertility benefits mostly experienced by the Yoruba people in Nigeria due to their love for its consumption.
They are also good sources of Vitamins and the trace mineral manganese and most importantly, they serve our daily requirement of carbohydrate.
So what ingredients do you need to prepare a spicy pot of Ofe owerri?
Ofe Owerri ingredients
Dried fish (Azu Okpo)
Salt to taste
Step by Step Preparation of Ofe Owerri
- Rinse meat and stock fish head thoroughly into a pot, season with pepper, maggi cubes, salt, add 1 cup of water to it and place on heat to boil.
- While the meat is cooking, wash the cocoyam into another pot, add water and boil without salt for 20 minutes.
- Take off the cocoyam from heat, leave to cool. Peel them into a mortar or blender and mash into a smooth paste.
- Dress the Ugwu or Uziza leaves and shred into smaller pieces, rinse the dried fish with salt, remove the centre bones and set everything aside.
- When the meat is almost cooked, add the dried prawns and snails if using that and increase the water level if needed.
- Add palm oil, Ogiri, ground crayfish and stir the content, leave to boil until the Ogiri starts to bring out its flavour.
- Cut small portions of the pounded cocoyam with a spoon or with your fingertips into the content and leave the pot uncovered, watch the cocoyam melt into the stock gradually; as it melts, it will begin to thicken the soup giving it a nice creamy look.
- Stir the soup well and add the dried fish and leave to simmer for 5 minutes; you are adding the fish just after the cocoyam because you don’t want it to disintegrate into the soup just before time. Taste for pepper and seasoning and adjust if needed.
- Add the sliced Ukazi and stir. Add the Uziza or Ugwu and stir to combine, let the soup sit on low heat for 3 minutes while it simmers slowly.
- Bring down your pot of nutritious Ofe Owerri because it is ready for consumption.
Ofe Owerri is best served with Fufu, pounded yam, eba or Semovita.
But where would you get all the items you need for your delicious Ofe Owerri Soup without leaving the comfort of your home?
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Watch a video on how to make Ofe Owerri here courtesy of Onyx Food Hill: