Ofe Onugbu (Bitter Leaf Soup) Recipe

Onugbu - bitterleaf - Soup - ibo - igbo - Nigerian - ewuro Ofe Onugbu (Bitter leaf soup)

Ofe is the igbo word for Soup, it preludes most native soups that are specific to the ibo people of Eastern Nigeria. Onugbu is used to identify the bitterleaf  plant (Vernonia amygdalina). Hence Ofe onugbu is bitterleaf soup. The soup like most soups from the region has a meat / fish broth base and requires thickening which is done by adding pounded cocoyam paste (ede). The peculiar taste of the soup comes from the leaves used and the presence of Ogiri (fermented pumpkin seed).

This is a simple recipe on how to prepare the soup. Please note that the choice and ratio of protein is based on personal preference.


  • Precooked Assorted meat (Beef/goat chunks, shaki, snails etc)
  • 2- 3 Stock fish and smoked fish (softened in hot water)
  • ¼ cup ground crayfish
  • Dried pepper – to taste
  • ½ cup washed bitter leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 6 small cocoyams (peeled and washed)
  • ¼ – 1/2 cup palm oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons ogiri
  • Maggi and salt – to taste


  • If using dried bitter leaves, soak it in some hot water to tenderize the leaves. Set aside
  • Cover washed cocoyam with water and boil on medium heat until cooked through and fork tender. Remove from water and pound to a paste in a mortal or process in a blender or food processor. Set aside

ede - cocoyam - paste - igbo - soup

  • Combine meat, fish , snail and smoked fish in a pot. Add 2 cups of water. Set on medium heat. Add the maggi, salt , pepper and crayfish. Simmer for 15 minutes

Nigerian - soup - making - base - broth

Soup - Nigerian - broth

  • Add in the pounded cocoyam, ogiri and palm oil, stir well to combine and dissolve the cocoyam paste. Simmer for another 5 minutes
    • Note: You can add in some more water at this point if you will like your soup to be lighter.
  • Drain and add in the bitter leaves. Combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning.  Simmer for another 5 minutes

Onugbu - bitterleaf - soup - traditionalLocal - igbo - soup - ogiri - onugbuYour soup is ready to serve, serve with your choice of pounded yam, fufu or Garri


Did you know: If you substitute the bitter leaves in this recipe with Ora leaves, you get “ora (oha) soup” and if you substitute in okazi leaves you have “ofe owerri” .

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By |July 15th, 2013|11 Comments


  1. Ndidi Obiorah August 11, 2017 at 7:20 am - Reply


    I am from Idemili in Anambra state and this is our native soup. A couple of things I would like to point out.

    We do not use maggi along with Ogiri; it spoils the taste of the soup
    We do not peel the cocoyam before boiling, you will lose the taste
    We extract oil from palm nuts to make the soup (optional but it improves the native taste of the soup)
    We use dried fish and not smoked fish. (there is a difference)

    I have seen some asking for Ofor or Achi; while these will somewhat thicken the soup, they will not give you the real taste of the soup. AChi draws a little bit and its a big no no for this soup.

    Once again, Maggi is a big no-no, not even to boil the meat. Onions are also not allowed even for boiling meat. You boil the meat with salt and pepper, no onions, no maggi.

    This will give you the right native taste and feel of the soup.

  2. evelyn November 19, 2015 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    I use either achi or ofor to thicken and it turns out just as nice.

    • 9jafoodie
      9jafoodie November 20, 2015 at 8:17 am - Reply

      Good to know, thank you!

    • Ndidi Obiorah August 11, 2017 at 7:21 am - Reply

      doesn’t give the right and original flavor of the soup.

  3. ThatLSCSMCIbabe September 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    I don’t know, but adding cocoyam to soup and then eating it with a solid sounds so jarring. Can you try a version with achi instead. I want to try the receipt but cocoyam used as a thickener and then I eat with poundo just sounds too much for this health nut. Btw good job on the site, and you are my namesake;). Ronke’s rock

    • Uzoma September 7, 2016 at 6:01 am - Reply

      Hi. I’m from Nnewi where we are known for Ofe Onugbu. The cocoyam we use is different from normal cocoyams. Ours is smallish in size, you can’t even peel the back off without boiling first because you practically may peel off the whole thing. When pounded, it draws and becomes very sticky. The cocoyam is essential because not only does it thicken the soup, it also adds its own unique flavor to the soup. Ofe Onugbu is not original without the cocoyam and ogiri. But if you prefer Offor, that’s OK. But it is not the authentic Anambra style where the soup originates from. 9ja foodie got it spot on. Well done!

  4. […] click here to view original web page at http://www.9jafoodie.com […]

  5. Carole Ibe August 3, 2015 at 7:47 am - Reply

    I can’t wait to use this recipe. I have never liked this soup but am willing to give it a try .

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