Nigerian Pepper Soup
Pepper soup spice mix
aniseed pepper (Sichuan peppercorns)
plus 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
plus 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
plus 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
whole black peppercorns
plus 2 teaspoons cloves
plus 1 teaspoon allspice
plus 1 teaspoon dried ginger
plus 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
“soup” (stew cuts of) chicken or goat meat, cut into bite-size pieces
pepper soup spice mix, divided
Maggi beef or chicken bouillon cubes, depending on how much salt you prefer
Red chile powder, to taste
ground crayfish (optional)
stalk lemongrass, bruised, cut into 3 pieces, and tied into small bundles
Ground black pepper, to taste
Recipe courtesy of Ozoz Sokoh of Kitchen Butterfly
Of all the Nigerian recipes that I remember most fondly for their combination of spice and comfort (and most certainly not the same without Maggi cubes), Nigerian pepper soup most definitely tops the list. Choose either chicken or goat for this—you guessed it—peppery broth. This soup also makes an excellent remedy when you’re feeling sick or under the weather.
- Gently toast the whole spices—aniseed pepper, coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, and black peppercorns—in a pan over low to medium heat, for a minute or so. Remove from the heat when the fragrance starts coming through. Allow the spices to cool, then place them in a spice grinder with the rest of the spices and blend until fine. Store in an airtight container and use as required.
- To make the pepper soup, put the chopped meat in a large pot and cover with about 2 cups of water. Add 1 tablespoon of the spice mix, some salt, the Maggi bouillon cubes, some red chile powder, the crayfish (if using), and the lemongrass bundles. Stir and allow to simmer over low heat until the liquid comes to a boil.
- When the liquid comes to a boil, add the remaining 8½ cups of water and the rest of the pepper soup spice mix. Allow to cook over medium-low heat. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and simmer till the meat is soft but not falling off the bone. Serve with boiled plantains and yams and some palm oil, if you like.
Nneka M. Okona
Nneka M. Okona is a first generation Nigerian American from Atlanta. She's happiest traveling as often as possible and has mastered the fine art of cooking fried chicken and jollof rice in the tiniest Airbnb kitchens while on the road.