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Bitter leaf is a very healthy vegetable soup just as the name sounds, it has a very bitter taste when chewed; despite its bitterness, many people still use it to prepare soup and it is used for other beneficial health reasons. Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) also known as Efere Atidot (Calabar dialect) or Ofe Onugbu (Igbo dialect) is a tasty Nigerian soup that is loved by many and can be cooked either with the use of cocoyam or with waterleaf, but both are used separately to achieve their different flavor. One important thing about bitter leaf soup is that it leaves a sweet taste in the mouth after consumption and that is why you should include it in your soup recipes or menu.
Bitter leaf soup with waterleaf is one of those delicious soups we enjoy in Africa at any time of the season, it is simple to make and it requires few ingredients. As long as the fresh bitter leaf is often used for bitter leaf soup, the dried bitter leaf can also be used to prepare any soup that calls for bitter leaf.
In order to make bitterleaf with water soup very tasty, you will need to season the soup with little or more traditional ingredients, crayfish, and a reasonable amount of stock cubes. Also, palm oil serves as an important ingredient in bitter leaf with waterleaf soup or in bitter leaf soup generally, as it adds an attractive color to the soup which without it, the bitter leaf soup will be left black or unattractive to sight. Bitter leaf with waterleaf soup is best eaten with semolina, fufu, or with eba (starchy bolus) and it can keep one full for a longer time.
The majority of people love to prepare their bitter leaf soup with long strands of the leaf, and I am among the few ones that love bitter leaf soup with finely chopped leaves so I always chop the leaf again after it has been washed to get a fine texture in the soup, in this case, you can decide how large or how tiny you want you bitter leaf texture to look like before preparing this soup and make it exactly how you love it.
Additionally, bitter leaves generally can easily change color from dark green to army green or to a very dark color once the leaves are wash and squeezed, so don’t panic if you notice the change in coloration of these leaves as you can always add palm oil to brighten the color while cooking it.
There are many ways of cooking bitter leaf soup such as:
- Bitter leaf with waterleaf soup
- Bitter leaf with cocoyam soup
- Bitter leaf with egusi soup
- Bitter leaf soup with achi
- Bitter leaf soup with ogbono
- Bitter leaf with okro/okra- see how to make okra soup
The waterleaf with bitter leaf soup is usually prepared using the afang soup or editan soup method. The only task involved in making bitter leaf soup is the long process of having to wash the bitter leaves over and over until the greenish bitter liquid is all gone; see these3 easy ways of washing bitter leaves. However, already washed bitter leaves are sold in any local market; one can easily buy the washed bitter leaf to prepare waterleaf with waterleaf soup instead of having to wash the leaves from scratch which might take a longer time.
Bitter leaf with waterleaf soup ingredients
- 250g bitter leaf, washed
- 200g water leaves, dressed and shredded
- 500g assorted meat (goat meat, chicken, or beef can be used)
- 1 head stockfish
- 2 pieces of iced or smoked fish
- 3 cooking spoon palm oil
- 4 scotch bonnet peppers, blended
- 1 cup ground crayfish
- 2 cups periwinkles (optional)
- I medium onion, chopped
- 1tablespoonful traditional ingredients (opkei, dawadawa or ogidi)
- 3 seasoning cubes, crushed
- salt to taste
Steps on how to cook bitter leaf soup with waterleaf
- Wash, season meat with 2 seasoning cubes, onions, pepper, and salt.
- Wash stockfish and cook together with the meat on high heat for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, add fish to it and cook for another 15 minutes.
- When the meat is soft, add a cup of water to the meat and bring it to a boil.
- Just before it starts to boil, add some traditional ingredients, and shredded waterleaf.
- Add palm oil, crayfish, 2 seasoning cubes, pepper, and a pinch of salt, and let it simmer on medium heat.
- Stir the soup properly and add the bitter leaf and still stir, leave it to cook for 10 minutes.
- Stir and taste for salt and adjust if there is a need.
- Your bitter leaf soup with waterleaf soup is perfectly ready, serve with semolina.
Simple steps on how to cook bitter leaf soup with waterleaf with pictures
- Wash, season meat with 2 seasoning cubes, onions, pepper, and salt.
2. Wash stockfish and cook together with the meat on high heat for 25 minutes, you can add a little water to the meat to extract more delicious stock when the water goes down.
3. After 25 minutes, add either smoked or iced fish to it and cook for another 15 minutes.
4. When the meat is soft, add a cup of water to the meat and bring to a boil, the water shouldn’t be too much as bitter leaf soup is supposed to be a bit thick like afang soup, remember water leaf contains liquid too.
5. Just before it starts to boil, add some traditional ingredients to start dissolving and the shredded waterleaf. Add palm oil, crayfish, 2 seasoning cubes, pepper, and a pinch of salt, and let it simmer on medium heat.
6. Stir the soup properly and add the bitter leaf and still stir, leave it to cook for 10 minutes.
7. Stir and taste for salt and adjust if there is a need for that.
8. Your bitter leaf soup with waterleaf is perfectly ready; serve with semolina, eba or fufu. Enjoy!
Bitter leaf is an important leaf with many health benefits, it is important you know its uses and start using it when the need arises.
Health benefits of Bitter leaf
- Bitter leaf reduces blood sugar levels thereby controlling diabetes mellitus and also helps in the maintenance of the pancreas.
- Bitter leaf reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke by increasing the serum level of high-density lipoprotein-C (HDL-C); a benefit that can be gotten from Ugwu leaf too.
- It is used as a remedy for treating Stomach pains, and disturbances by squeezing the leaf and extracting the bitter juice, and then adding a small amount of salt for immediate relief. (It works like charm.)
- It is used for treating and preventing malaria. This has not been proven medically but has been observed to be efficacious.
- It helps to reduce the unwanted and negative symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and rheumatism.
- It is known to reduce toothache when chewed with the stick.
- It has been observed in animals that chewing bitter leaf helps them get rid of worms
- Bitter leaf also prevents damages caused by free radicals; hence it is an antioxidant.
- Bitter leaf has been eaten for ages both by pregnant women and nursing mothers and without any record of negative results; however, if you are skeptical about eating the bitter leaf or bitter leaf soup during pregnancy, it is best you seek medical attention from your doctor.
- Bitter leaf has no side effect on pregnancy as there are no medical proves to all the assumptions carried out by many individuals. The stick can be chewed to reduce nausea and other irritating symptoms during pregnancy. As long as the bitter leaf doesn’t cause purging and abdominal cramps for pregnant women, it is there safe to prepare it especially inform of vegetable soup to be enjoyed.