This soup is nicknamed “jewel of the South-East” because it is one of the most expensive soups in Igboland.
Ever heard of the saying, “better soup, na money kill am”? Well, Ofe Owerri is that soup and here’s how to prepare the soup of kings.
There is a popular song by the late highlife musician, Bright Chimezie, which he chorused that; onye ne jiè ègo adi heri ofe owerri (a poor man cannot eat ofe owerri). Ofe owerri (ofe means soup while, Owerri, is the capital of Imo State, is one of the most expensive soups in Nigeria. This king of soup belong to the people of Owerri and to prepare this pot of soup, you would spend between N4, 000 and N10, 000.
In Igbo communities, beautiful women are usually likened to Ofe Owerri as it is a special delicacy soup that will leave a deep hole in your wallet.
This kind of soup consists mainly of;
Azu Okpo (dried fish).
Snails and other assorted meat add to the beauty and richness of the soup.
There is often a bit of debate by the people of Enugu, Abia and Anambra as to the traditional leaf combination for the soup. While some think it should be ukazi and ugu, others are of the opinion that okazi alone is okay and to others, it should be uziza. However, a typical Imo cook would use a combination of the four leaves to make this soup.
If you have heard of this soup or probably enjoy eating it at local Igbo restaurants, here is your chance to cook it for your family, as Effiezy food presents to you, the recipe and directions of how to cook ofe Owerri.
large snails, (optional)
ponmo (cow skin)
Okporoko (dried cod)
Oporo (smoked prawns)
Grounded dried crayfish
Wraps of Ogili (fermented soya beans)
Fresh pepper grounded
Dried pepper, grounded
Sliced ugu leaf (pumpkin leaves),
Sliced oha leaf
Slized uziza leaves,
Achi powder and salt.
Season the meats, snail and stockfish with salt, half cup of crayfish, 1 tablespoon of dried pepper. Pour water to the level of the meats and cook until tender.
How to make the cocoyam paste
Wash the cocoyam thoroughly and boil with the skin on, in lots of water for ten to fifteen minutes.
When cooked, peel off the skin and pound into a paste. The cocoyam is usually sticky so add a tablespoonful of palm oil. This does two things: it keeps the cocoyam from sticking to the mortar and also it enhances the colour of the soup.
Once the meat and stockfish have softened, taste the stock and make any necessary adjustments to the flavour.
At this stage, add the cocoyam paste in small portions with your cooking spoon or simply mix the ground ‘Achi’ powder with some water in a bowl, stir well and pour into the soup. Reduce the heat and watch the soup thicken. Stir thoroughly to ensure all cocoyam lumps dissolve totally into the soup.
Add the palm oil and washed chunks of dry fish to the soup. Cover the pot and let the soup cook until the oil combines with the soup and loses that raw taste (this takes about 2-5 minutes)
Add the ogiri, the remaining crayfish and dry pepper and stir thoroughly.
Thoroughly wash the vegetables with cold water. Wash twice or thrice to remove any traces of dust or sand. Stir after adding the vegetables and allow to simmer on low heat for an extra five minutes, then turn off the heat.
Voila, your Ofe Owerri is ready!
Serve hot with akpu, yellow Igbo garri, pounded yam or semovita