Egusi Soup (melon soup) is the most popular soup in Nigeria. If you have never tried it, then you are truly missing out! Coarsely ground up egusi seeds thickens the soup and at the same time creates a crumbly tender texture with highly pleasant rich taste. Rich in protein and healthy fats, egusi soup complements hearty whole grains and earthy vegetables.
This vegan oil-free version is healthier without sacrificing taste. It is made by sautéing onions in vegetable stock, then adding pepper, tomatoes, garlic and seasoning to make a tomato sauce. Ground egusi is then added to the tomato sauce, heated through, and mixed in the stew. In the final step, chopped dark green vegetables are added with seasoning. I made two versions; one with mushrooms, and another without mushrooms. For the mushroom version, the mushrooms are added before the vegetables.
More About Egusi
The egusi fruit, which is indigenous to West Africa, looks like a small, round, watermelon. However, unlike watermelon, the flesh is white, dry and bitter. It is grown for its seeds which look like large white melon seeds.
In Nigeria, the seeds are dehulled and ground into a flour that enriches and thickens soups and stews. The whole seeds can also be dry-roasted and consumed as a snack. Alternatively, they can be dry roasted and ground with peanuts and pepper into the renown paste known as Ose-Oji. Ose-Oji can be spread on bread like peanut-butter, used to eat kola nuts and African eggplants or dropped into soups and stews. Because it is so versatile and stable, there are so many more other ways egusi seeds can be prepared. This plant has so much to offer that it really deserves to be internationally popular.
Nutrition Info: Egusi seed contains about 50 percent healthy polyunsaturated fat, 30 percent high grade nutritional protein, 10 percent carbohydrate, and 3 percent fiber. The seeds contain high amounts of vitamins, especially vitamin B1, B2 and niacin. It’s also rich in phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, calcium, iron, and zinc.
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- 1 cup ground Egusi
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 3 fresh roma tomatoes chopped
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper (habanero)
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled
- 1 large onions chopped
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon dry thyme
- 1 tablespoon seasoning blend
- 1 bunch Spinach or dark green vegetable of choice
- 1 cup mushrooms optional
- Salt to taste
- In a blender, blend scotch bonnet pepper, tomatoes, and garlic until smooth. Add water as needed for the blender to rotate.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable stock then add 1/2 onion. Sauté the onion for about 2 to 3 mins or until translucent.
- Gently pour tomato pepper blend into the saucepan. Then add thyme, seasoning blend, and paprika. Mix, cover pot and cook over medium heat for 10-15 mins.
- To make egusi paste, blend egusi, 1/2 onion and 1/2 cup vegetable broth in a blender or food processor and set aside.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop several balls of egusi paste into the stew. Cover, and cook for 10-15 mins.
- If using mushrooms, add mushrooms, stir well and cook 5-8 minutes.
- Add 1/2-1 cup vegetable stock for desired consistency, if needed. Add spinach or vegetables of choice, then add salt and additional seasoning to taste, stir well, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm with plantain, root vegetables (like potatoes or pounded yam), or whole grain of choice