How to cook Nigerian Nsala Soup (White Soup)
Nsala soup or White Soup is a tasty, fast and easy soup recipe that has its origins in the riverine areas of Nigeria.
Nsala Soup is perfect for a cold rainy day due to its spicy taste. Because it is so easy to prepare, you can count on it to save the day when you run out on soup a few days before the big soup day ;)
- Cat Fish: 4 one-inch thick pieces
- Fresh or dry Utazi Leaves (Gongronema latifolium)
- Thickener: Raw White Yam / Yam Powder / Potato Puree
- Habanero peppers: to taste
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 handful crayfish
- 1 stock cube (Maggi / Knorr)
- 1 Ogiri Okpei (Nigerian traditional seasoning)
Alternative Ingredients for Nsala Soup
- You can use Conger Eel (Congrio in Spanish) instead of Cat fish. Buy the part towards the tail because the pieces you'll get from there are smaller and do not have large holes in them.
- When using yam powder as thickener, mix the powder with hot water first to make a thick smooth paste (as if you are making pounded yam) before adding it to the soup. Adding the powder directly into the soup will make the soup mushy and you may end up with lumps. Visit How to Cook Nigerian Soups with Flour as Thickener for details.
- In the absence of habanero pepper, you can use dry chilli pepper.
- Utazi leaves do not have any good alternative. If you don't have it, no worries because it only adds a slightly bitter flavour to the soup.
Before you cook Nsala Soup
- Cut the catfish into 1 inch thick cylindrical discs and remove the intestines. Place in bowl and pour very hot water on the fish. This process of pouring hot water on the fish toughens the skin of the fish so that the pieces do not disintegrate while cooking the soup. Leave for about 2 minutes and wash the fish with cold water. You should also wash off any slimy substance on the outer skin of the fish at this time.
- Boil a few cubes of raw white yam. When soft, pound with a mortar and pestle till a smooth paste is formed, then set aside. You can substitute white yam with yam powder or potato puree for the thickening.
- Wash and pound/blend the utazi leaves, the chilli pepper and the crayfish and set aside. Utazi is bitter in taste and only used for flavouring so one or two leaves should be enough especially when using the fresh leaves.
- Place the catfish in a pot and pour enough water to cover the fish. Add the seasoning and cook till done. Feel free to add beef and dry fish to this soup recipe.
- When the catfish is almost done, add the crayfish, pepper and utazi leaves blend. Also add the yam paste in small lumps and salt to taste.
Note: Catfish is what makes Nsala soup what it is, giving it the unique taste that it has so it is essential to this recipe. The only other fish that I have found to be close to Cat fish as regards to this recipe is Conger Eel.
- Cover the pot and allow the contents to cook at high heat till all the yam paste have dissolved. While cooking, if you think that the yam paste will make the soup too thick, you can remove some that are yet to dissolve.