Egusi Soup (Vegan and Oil-free)

egusi soup and quinoa
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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.

egusi soup and quinoa
Egusi soup with quinoa and mushrooms

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.

egusi seed dehulled
dehulled egusi seed

 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.

egusi soup vegan

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.

Egusi Soup with mushrooms


This egusi soup pairs well with whole grains and earthy flavors like Akara (bean fritters) and Jollof Rice

Want more egusi inspiration? Check out our high protein Tomato Chickpea Stew, and Zucchini Chickpea Stew

Did you try this recipe?   We love hearing from you! Rate it and leavea comment below. Remember to tag a photo #theveganri on Instagram. Thanks, Fam!

egusi soup 3
egusi soup and quinoa
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5 from 3 votes

Egusi Soup

Featuring the wildly enjoyed West African egusi seeds, this high-energy, high-protein soup has crumbly tender texture intertwined with a luscious rich taste. It ideally complements whole grains and earthy root veggies. This version is vegan and oil-free
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Nigerian
Keyword Gluten free, seeds, vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 3
Calories 123kcal
Author Nnaja Okorafor, MD


  • 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


*The nutrition fact is an estimate calculated using a calorie counting application
Nutrition Per Serving (Serving Size - 4):  Calories 123, Total Fat 4g, Saturated Fat 0.8g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 261mg, Total Carbohydrate 17.9g, Dietary Fiber 5.7g, Total Sugars 7.5g, Protein 7.4g, Vitamin D 63mcg, Calcium 126mg, Iron 5mg, Potassium 956mg
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2 years ago

5 stars
Great post, such a simple and easy recipe that looks delicious. I will have to try this.

2 years ago

That looks amazing and wholesome!

2 years ago

5 stars
Looks delicious

1 year ago

I have been vegan for 5 years
I am half Nigerian and half Jamaican and have never tried Nigerian food the 30 years on this planet smh
I’m stuck on the first line 1 cup of ground egusi…. meaning 1 cup of melon seeds ??? Where can I get one cup of ground egusi

BB Beckmann
BB Beckmann
1 year ago

I’m really excited to try this recipe! I just got some ground egusi!
Do we end up using all the paste we make?
Last question, what’s in the 1 tablespoon seasoning blend?

Stephanie Anderson
Stephanie Anderson
1 year ago

I can’t wait to make this recipe, but I have the same question that another person did… what is the seasoning blend?

8 months ago

Making this now but can’t see where/how to add the red bell pepper. Please explain—thanks!

8 months ago
Reply to  Supriya

I’m sorry, you chop it and blend it with the tomato. I hope this helps

5 months ago

5 stars
This is me and my daughters favourite dish at our local food market. I made it tonight and it turned out LOVLEY! I couldn’t find egusi so I used pumpkin seeds. I also used habanero pepper opposed to the scotch bonnet (we can’t handle much heat) and it worked great. I also didn’t have any Mrs dash so I had to add lib there but the finished product was just like the market. I have shared the post with my friends who are fans of African food. Can’t wait to make this again!