Afang Soup is one of the best delicacies that originate from the Ibibio people of Akwa Ibom and the Efik tribe of Cross River State in Nigeria. In some other parts of the country, Afang soup is called Okazi soup. In English, it is usually referred to as “wild spinach.”
This delicacy has been used for nutritional and medicinal purposes since the reign of the Efik Kingdom. It has now been adopted as a cultural identity in the Efik and Ibibio tribe. It isn’t just prepared at home, but also during festivals, wedding ceremonies, funerals, and so on, especially events taking place in the southern part of the country.
The soup is made from Gnetum Africanum, a strong-flavored green leaf vegetable that is commonly grown in West Africa. This vegetable grows in all seasons, and you can find it in large numbers in the forest. For convenience, you can get it at the market at any time of the year. It’s widely grown by some farmers and available for subsistence and commercial purposes in Nigeria due to its popularity among natives. This article features a step-by-step guide on how to prepare Afang soup, but first:
What is Afang Soup?
As you have read above, this soup is an exotic cuisine with numerous nutritional benefits. Apart from the Afang leaves (Gnetum Africanum), it is usually prepared with waterleaf, periwinkle, beef, and other numerous ingredients. It’s one of the major traditional dishes of the Efik people, and it has gained popularity in other tribes because of its unique taste; even people in the diaspora have adopted the soup too. You can eat it alone or with another meal. It’s best enjoyed when served hot.
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Is Afang Soup Healthy?
Yes, there are several health benefits associated with it. The soup is not only prepared with Afang leaves as I earlier mentioned, but other numerous ingredients are also combined to make the soup. And so – it contains a variety of nutrients that are required by the body for healthy growth. The soup is said to contain the following nutrients:
- Iodine (helps in preventing goiter).
- Dietary Fiber (may prevents constipation and help for for weight loss).
- Vitamin C (can help the body in resisting diseases).
- Unsaturated fatty acid is present, and this cholesterol is classified as good cholesterol. It makes up the High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and helps in removing unwanted cholesterol from the body.
- The presence of protein makes this soup high in essential acids, and this is an alternate source of energy when glucogenesis damages the carbohydrate metabolism.
- The soup could help in converting starch to simple sugar.
- It could also slow down digestion.
Is Afang Soup Good for a Pregnant Woman?
Afang soup has no side effect as long as you eat in moderation. I have personally eaten the soup for over a decade and witness many pregnant women eating it without any adverse effect. The notion by some people that Afang soup affects the womb during pregnancy is all shades of wrong. It’s a perfect meal for pregnant women. The soup is rich in folic acid, and Vitamin A. These nutrients are essential for both the unborn baby and the mother.
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Is Afang Soup bitter?
Based on preparation, the soup can taste slightly bitter, but it is just good. I think the taste is natural. You can spice it up with periwinkles, assorted meats, and so on, to give an incredible taste. Your taste buds will definitely crave for more of this fantastic soup.
How to Prepare Afang Soup
Now let’s get down to it; preparing this soup isn’t a big deal as long as you follow the steps properly. It is always prepared with waterleaf, but you can substitute it with lamb lettuce or the common spinach, though these substitutes will alter the taste a little bit, so waterleaf is still the best option.
- 1000g of sliced fresh waterleaf (Gnetum Africanum)
- 5 cl of red oil
- 200g of ground Afang leaves
- 5 cup of ground crayfish
- 1-2KG of beef or any assorted meat
- Two scotch bonnet peppers
- Two medium or large size roasted or dried fish
- Three chicken bullion
- 2 tablespoonful of cayenne pepper (use as you wish)
- Two onions (You can get onion based on the quantity of the soup)
- Snails (optional)
- Ponmo aka Cowskin (optional)
- 1 Stockfish (optional)
The first things to do:
- Slice the cayenne pepper and onions. Each of the onions should be sliced separately in 2 different plates.
- Use lime juice in washing the snails and make sure to get rid of all its slimy fluid.
- Soak the roasted or dried fish in a bowl of warm water then start removing the center bones. Afterwards, wash the fish thoroughly with water
- Wash the waterleaf. You can remove the sturdy stems if you want to, but leave the soft stem.
The cooking part:
- Boil the meat in a large pot on low/medium heat and add one chicken bullion, the scotch bonnet pepper, 1 tablespoonful of salt, and one plate of the onions. Cook the meat until it gets soft at least. This should take about 30 minutes.
- 15 minutes into the steaming add a half cup of water and stir the meat. This prevents it from burning and make sure to keep the pot covered at all times.
- Once the meat is done, drop it and set it aside. The braising liquid should also be set aside. It will be used later as a flavor.
- Heat the palm oil on medium heat then cook the other plate of onions for about 10 minutes. Your onions should now be brownish and have a sweet, nutty flavor.
- Add the snail. Allow it to sauté for five minutes.
- Add the braised meat, pomo, and stockfish (don’t add the braising liquid yet).
- Add 2 tablespoonfuls of crayfish, the cayenne pepper and two chicken bullion. Also, add the waterleaf. After a few minutes, the waterleaf will start wilting then add the Afang leaves.
- Add the braising liquid and turn down the heat to the lowest level. Cover the pot and leave it to cook for 10 minutes.
- Taste the soup to know if you have to add salt.
- Turn off the heat and leave the soup for 5 minutes before serving it.
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How to Prepare Afang Soup with Periwinkles
Periwinkle is one of the key ingredients in Afang Soup with a variety of nutritional benefits (protein, Omega-3, and iron). But before we move onto how to prepare Afang Soup with periwinkles, you firstly need to know how to clean it properly.
- Get lukewarm water and rinse the periwinkle to ensure that sand or dirt are washed off.
- Get boiling water and rinse it for about 5 minutes. This kills the germs and removes specks of soil stuck on the inside. Afterwards, drain the water.
- Poke out the periwinkles with a pin. Put the removed periwinkles in a bowl of water and add ginger to spice it up.
Adding the Periwinkles
1 cup of Periwinkles
Note that there is no different method of preparing Afang soup with periwinkle. After cleaning your periwinkle thoroughly, add to the soup as one of the ingredients. Periwinkles should come under step 7 above; as you add other major ingredients, also add your periwinkle.
This soup is effortless to make with a preparation time of 10-20 minutes and cooking time of 1 hr. It can be eaten with any eba (molded garri, pounded yam or semovita/semolina). Though some people prefer serving it with other meals as a stew/soup. The originators of the soup (Efik/Ibibio people) also prefer eating it with another meal – eba.
The ingredients are easily accessible, and with this guide, you are rest assured of having a wonderful meal!
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