Try This White Soup: Ofe Nsala

Bayo Ajibola

How to cook Ofe Nsala. Ofe nsala recipe

When you hear the word soup your mind probably thinks thick, red and creamy. Well, this particular kind of soup is not red but is thick and rich. It is known as Ofe Nsala in Igbo and this translates to white soup in English. There is an Efik variety too but the one thing that stands out in both is the distinctive colour.

It may seem unappetizing at first because it doesn’t have the typical bright colour of soup. Your taste buds will however beg to differ once you have a taste of all the strong flavours in it. The reason this soup is ‘white’ is the fact that it doesn’t contain palm oil or tomatoes. You will realize that it doesn’t even need them once you try it. It may seem like a healthier version of soup but hold that thought. It contains yam and different kinds of meat but you can make things better by going for leaner meat.


  • 1 medium catfish
  • 6 small cubes raw yam or yam powder (if not available you can substitute with potato puree)
  • 1 teaspoon fermented locust beans
  • 1 tablespoon ground crayfish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onions (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped utazi leaves or parsley (optional)
  • Scotch bonnet peppers to taste, chopped
  • Seasoning cubes
  • Salt to taste
  • Dried fish to taste
  • Red meat (beef, goat, mutton) to taste

TIP – The dried fish and red meat will make the soup richer so feel free to indulge. Meat that comes on the bone will prove to be a great asset to your soup because all the flavours and stock from the bone adds a lot of body to the final product.

TIP – There are those who like to add offal to this recipe. If interested, you can add some gizzards, tongue or tripe to the mix. You should precook these in seasoning like the meat.


  1. Start by seasoning the red meat and dried fish. Once seasoned, cook it with onions and salt to taste until done and set it aside. You can also add chicken if you want.
  2. Peel the yams and boil them until soft. You can also wash them and boil with the skins on and peel afterwards. The skin will come off easily. Pound the yams using a mortar and pestle or just puree them in a blender with a little hot water until smooth.

If using yam powder, mix it with boiling water and stir to get a smooth paste. Set it aside.

  1. Place the catfish in a pot and add water to cover it. Throw in the onions, seasoning cube and salt. Cook until the fish is almost done.
  2. Add the crayfish, peppers and fermented locust beans. You can now add the cooked seasoned meat (from step 1) and then the yam paste in bits. Let it cook until the paste dissolves and the fish well cooked.
  3. Add the utazi leaves or parsley, taste for seasoning and salt and let it simmer for 20 seconds. It is ready to serve!

You can serve it with a starch like fufu, pounded yam or eba.

TIP – Note that there is no oil in this recipe. Everything is boiled. You will realize that you don’t really need it because it still comes out tasty and spicy. Speaking of spice, go easy on the utazi. You only need a faint bitter taste plus you already added some peppers.

TIP – The pounded yam is used to thicken the soup. You can increase or decrease the quantities depending on how thick you want your soup to be.

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Bayo Ajibola

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