Bitterleaf soup – Ofe onugbu (as the Igbos like to call it) is very delicious and also comes third on my list of Nigerian popular soups.

This soup is popular because it could be made in more than five different ways by different ethnic groups in Nigeria. It can also be refrigerated for a very long time (even though I recommend two weeks at most for most Naija soups)

Below is the images for Ofe Onugbu (bitterleaf soup)
Bitter Leaf Soup

Here is a guide to making the much talked about “ofe onugbu”. I stated in the download-able Nigerian foods Eguide that most Nigerian soups are named after the leaves or the thickener used in making them.

This soup can be made with either egusi (melon seeds), ede (cocoa yam), ofor, achi or even ogbono.

Yes, we made the ogbono soup video with bitter leaves. But the most popular of them all is the cocoa yam and bitter leaves combination – what we have below.

How to prepare Bitterleaf Soup (Ofe Onugbu)

Bitter leaf soup, like most other Nigerian soups is named after the particular leaf which is used in preparing it.

But of course, you need to wash this leaf to remove at least ninety percent of the bitter taste, just so you don’t end up with a very bitter soup.

The ingredients listed below would make enough soup for 12 people.

You are free to increase the size of the ingredients if you want to serve a larger number of people.

You can also refrigerate the remainder in case you have a smaller family.

Ingredients For making Bitterleaf Soup

    2kg cow head (meat)
    Bitter leaf (wash to desire)
    Half cup of ground Crayfish
    Maggi or knorr seasoning (3 cubes
    Ogiri (a product of castor seeds)(optional)
    Dry fish (2 medium sizes)
    Stock fish head (1 big size)
    Palm oil (about 25cl)
    Salt and pepper to taste.
    Cocoa-yam (pounded)
    Half cup ofor (alternative tickener)


The bitter leave soup takes almost the same process as the making of Oha soup.

As a matter of fact, one pot of soup could be cooked up to the point of adding the leaves then you divide it to add Oha to one and bitter leaf to the other.

It is better and more hygienic to wash the leaves yourself, it is a bit of time-consuming but the result is worth the effort.

This is possible if you live in Nigeria and can find them in your garden. But you can also get the “already made” from any market in Nigeria.

Bitter Leaves

Bitter Leaf Soup Preparation

Step 1
To soften the leaves and further remove the bitter taste, it is advisable to boil alone in ordinary water for 10 to 15 minutes, most people like to add a little quantity of edible potash to hasten this process but I highly advise against it.

My reason being that this catalyst (potash) tend to affect the entire soup in a slightly negative way.

If you still want to add potash, it will completely wash off the bitter taste and soften the leaves in less than 3 minutes of boiling (the reason most people like using it).

But then you would want to boil again alone and wash thoroughly with just water to remove every trace of the potash.

Step 2
Parboil meat with every necessary ingredient, use 2 seasoning cubes, a teaspoon of salt and half a cup of onions. Allow to boil for 10 minutes then add water and cook till the meat is tender.

Step 3
Add the (hot-water) washed dry fish, stockfish and cook until it is tender, add more water then add palm oil, ground crayfish, pepper, maggi seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and allow to boil.


At this point, it should give a good soupy taste (even though it would be watery).

Step 4
Then add the pounded cocoa yam as you can find in the video below (at this point you can add the ground egusi if you choose to make bitter leaf soup with egusi), also add the ogiri now.

boiling soup

Cook till the cocoa yam dissolves, (this would likely take about ten minutes). You could add a teaspoon of ofor, if the soup is not thick enough.

Step 5
Then add the bitter leaves, stir, taste, add more salt if necessary then cook for three to two minutes and you are done with the making of Nigerian Bitter Leaf Soup (Ofe Onugbu).

Bitter Leaf Soup

Either of these five can go along with it – Eba, Fufu, Semo, Wheat or pounded yam

Subscribe Below to Receive My Free Weekly Recipes.


Bitter leave soup recipe

Bitter leaf Soup Recipe | Ofe Onugbu

Chy Anegbu
This is unarguably one of the most popular recipe from earstern Nigeria. This is the way an Igbo woman would make bitter leaf soup.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Nigerian Cuisine
Servings 12 People
Calories 787 kcal


  • Pots


  • 2 kg cow head meat
  • 3 cups washed bitter leaves
  • ½ cup of ground Crayfish
  • Maggi or knorr seasoning (3 cubes
  • 1 tbsp Ogiri a product of castor seeds(optional)
  • 200 g Dry fish 2 medium sizes
  • 200 g Stockfish head
  • 300 ml palm oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cocoa-yam cooked and pounded
  • ½ cup ground ofor Alternative thickener


  • Season your meat with a teaspoon of salt, 2 seasoning cubes and half cup of sliced onions. Let the meat boil for ten minutes, add 3 cups of water and let it cook till tender.
  • Add the washed dried fish, stockfish and add 6 cups of water. The palm oil should follow.
  • Allow the soup to boil before adding the ground crayfish, a seasoning cube, salt and pepper to taste.
  • The cocoyam (pounded) and ogiri should be added at this point.
  • The cocoyam should dissolve in about 10 minutes, if it is not thick enough, one or two extra spoons of ofor would do it.
    Then add the bitter leaves (pre-washed). Stir and taste for salt.
  • Allow your soup to simmer on medium heat for 6 minutes and you are done with making Bitter leave the soup


Keyword bitter leaf soup, Igbo Foods, Ofe Igbo, Ofe Onugbu

Video On Making Bitterleaf Soup (Ofe Onugbu)

Above is the video for making the same bitter leaf soup. I realized that some tips and tricks about Nigerian foods can be hard to describe with written words. That is why I try my best to also make videos for most of the foods listed on this site.

Compare Other Nigerian Soups

How to Make Ogbono Soup


  1. Chika  July 24, 2013

    This is the best ofe olugbu in town!

  2. Chidera  July 24, 2013

    This is my favorite bitterleaf soup recipe, exactly the way a an Igbo woman would make it. I like Nigerian foods and that is exactly why I am trying my best to learn all of them. I have been able to make a lot of different Nigerian soups, I am about becoming an expert. Thanks for all your help and guide and emails

  3. Blessed  September 3, 2013

    U are a wonderful lecturer, bitter leave soup is my favorite but i don’t know how to prepare it. Now that i have learn it i can start preparing it myself. Thx u very much.

  4. chukwuka  September 19, 2013

    Great lecture. I usually eat these tasty meal frm restaurant since I am married to a Liberian woman who don’t know to prepare this meal, but I am preparing my own bitterleaf soup today. Thanks. My wife is about going in the market to buy the ingredients

  5. mimi  September 19, 2013

    Thanks. Lot but can I add cocoyam & egusi together?

    • Chinonye  June 10, 2017

      No you can’t because is bitter leaf soup and not ogusi

      • Eze  August 14, 2017

        You can add it
        I tried it
        It’s yummy

    • Bonaventure  March 12, 2018

      Yes you can’t mixing cocoa and egusi

  6. The Nigerian Kitchen  September 21, 2013

    Hello Mimi, I have not tried a combination of egusi and cocoa yam for bitterleaf soup, I prefer to use either of them but surely, you can try it and tell us how it turned out.

    • Testimony  February 12, 2019

      Ma hw do I boil the bitterleaf before was or after washing

      • Chy Anegbu  February 19, 2019

        You boil after washing.

  7. Elvis  September 23, 2013

    Tanx for the soup recipe, I have learned so much about Nigerian foods from you.

  8. Chiamaka Mbanefo  October 10, 2013

    Thanks. What if I want to use palm fruit (akwu)?

  9. Mama T  October 11, 2013

    This bitter leaf recipe is my soup for this weekend. Thanks

  10. The Nigerian Kitchen  October 11, 2013

    Hello Chiamaka, you can use palm fruit juice for the different Nigerian soups, infact it is better than palm oil. Most of us use palm oil for convinience.

  11. Erin  November 24, 2013

    Thank you for your recipe. I’m an Indonesian but my bf is Nigerian. You help me a lot to prepare this soup. Egusi is very expensive here, and i try to substitute it with coco yam. It taste good. And we don’t have to buy African food in restaurant anymore we can save our money for something else. Keep on posting, You help me a lot and make him more loving me. God bless you

  12. esty  February 12, 2014

    I will give it a try cos I tasted one made by a relative nd it was so bitter I couldn’t eat it

  13. amudat imam  February 13, 2014

    Thanks for the onugbu soup,i love it so much. it was when i visited a restaurant that i came across onugbu soup and since then i have been preparing it but with ofor (thickner). With this recipe and your narration i’ll try it with cocoyam so as to taste the diffrence.I enjoin all readers to try it because it is medicinal too.

  14. mercy william  March 8, 2014

    Your site has really helped me and my cookings, I really want to make this bitter leafe soup but I am in Cotonou and I only have access to achi, not so sure of getting coco yam. Incase I don’t find it (coco yam) can I use just achi for soup? And will it work out just fine like coco yam?

  15. Chy Anegbu  March 9, 2014

    Sure, Mercy, you can use achi in place of coco yam, just add sparingly and observe. Achi works faster than coco yam just two or three spoons would be enough.

  16. IJ  June 24, 2014


  17. Glorify  June 28, 2014

    Thanks for d lectures. I have learnt alot thru ur posts. My husband loved it. I got a gift wen I made this soup for him and his friends. Hope to share d gift with u bcos u are d secret behind d success

    • Chy Anegbu  July 3, 2014

      @ Glorify, I am still waiting for my own gift o

      • Amarachi  August 16, 2019

        Wow you tried Weldon

  18. ezinne chukwu  December 19, 2014

    It realy interesting knowing dis sight I had really wanted to find out hw to prepare bitter leaf soup thnx a lot I would go he and practice it

  19. Julia  January 16, 2015

    Is it ideal to add uziza seed to the bitter soup ?

    • Blessing Ogbu  November 13, 2018

      its a nice combo I do it all d tym

  20. Julia  January 16, 2015

    Is it ideal to add uziza seed to the bitter leaf soup?

  21. Aderayo  March 3, 2015

    join d group today and my ofe onugbu make my husband give me a passionate kiss with a big hug. waoh am glad I cook d ofe onugbu soup as learn here. Thanks

    • Chy Anegbu  March 3, 2015

      lol, happy to read your testimony.

  22. shona  May 23, 2015

    should d cocoyam be pounded raw? or should it be cooked den pounded

    • Chy Anegbu  May 26, 2015

      Should be cook and then pounded.

  23. Nwaeze  June 5, 2015

    thx elot this my favorit soup which I enjoy most
    when am still with my mum.but seinc I leaft her I mist it very much and now I have lean how to priper it now am happy.
    thank you.

  24. alex lexon  July 24, 2015

    how can i prepare vegetable like those of the calabar

  25. Jackie  July 29, 2015

    Pls how can I join the group, I need to learn how to make many Nigerian food. Or am I in?

  26. RitA  August 28, 2015

    Can i use ofor

  27. odunayo  September 22, 2015

    You are such a blessing.Tnx alot,ve tried sm of d tin u sent like bitter leaf soup nd puff puff.God bless u big

  28. Joy  November 5, 2015

    Interesting am so gonna try this, thanks for this forum cos I was already gettIng bored with my own cooking.

  29. pauline  November 6, 2015

    Thanks for all these i enjoy every bit of ur post,am trying this bitter leaf soup this weekend,do i pluck and boil d bitter leaf direct or i shud wash first?

    • Chy Anegbu  November 14, 2015

      You will need to wash it first before boiling.

  30. hope  January 6, 2016

    D cocoyam dat is added. Is it d normal edible cocoyam or it is another type of cocoyam

    • Chy Anegbu  January 6, 2016

      When you get to the market, ask them to give you cocoyam for making soup.

  31. Favour  January 6, 2016

    I love ur site…. I’m a single lady n from here i have been learning how to make gud food for my husband to Thanks to u

  32. Patricia  January 7, 2016

    I never knew that I can boil bitter leaf to remove the bitter taste,I normally go through the rigorous process of washing it raw,now I know better! Thanks load!

  33. Temitayo  January 8, 2016

    Thanks a million for this post though I’m a Yoruba but I like trying all Nigerian food. I’m making this one this weekend. Thank you.

  34. Adeola  January 11, 2016

    Thank you for this and making it soon,
    I made the Nkwobi over this weekend and it was a big
    I remembered the market woman and the shock/surprise on her face when she was trying to converse with me in Igbo and told her I was Yoruba and she said and you want to make Nkwobi! who is teaching you….I smiled, paid for my ingredients and walked away.
    thank you cos my hubby loved every bite.

  35. Joy oladimeji  January 28, 2016

    Waa oh chi am going to prepare this soup

  36. Chioma Monica  March 25, 2016

    I’m going to try this recipe definitely. You are really wonderful and I’m glad I found your site today. Keep it up dear.

  37. suzzy  April 23, 2016

    I prepared it just as u lectured and it was so delicious. U are really God sent, I was actually scared anytime my hubby ask me to prepare onugbu soup but now I can close my eyes to prepare it .tanx to u.

  38. Winnie  May 10, 2016

    I tried this soup for after visiting this site. Thanks so much. It came out nice although it seems i used too much oil.

    • Chy Anegbu  May 11, 2016

      lol, that happens sometime. Just be more careful the next time you try bitterleaf soup.

  39. Tracy unuigbe  June 29, 2016

    In my place, we wash bitter leaf ground it before using it to make bitter leaf soup. When it is used together with egusi it no longer bitter leaf soup but egusi soup prepare with bitter leaf just like egusi soup prepared with ugu (pumpkin leave). I will still try this your method because no knowledge is wasted. Thank you ma

  40. Nephi  November 24, 2016

    Thanks a lot! I can prepare Bitter Leaf soup now

  41. ene  December 13, 2016

    will ofor be good as the cocoyam

  42. gladys  April 3, 2017

    It look delicious. But meat is d best to use in this soup

  43. Oluwatoyin  April 21, 2017

    Thannks for the soup recipe, can i prepare the soup without adding Achi, cocoyam or ufo because am Yoruba

  44. Mercy  April 25, 2017

    Hi.tnx alot for d recipe.jus got to knw abt dis platform today n i ve learnt abt d method of cookin bitterleaf soup.pls keep postin more n God ill reward u for wat u are doin.tnx alot

  45. Tacy  June 9, 2017

    I luv bitter leaf soup die… Dats wat am am preparing now.

  46. Khadija  June 15, 2017

    Honestly this is great app. Thank u mummy I call u wt that name cos u deserve it. I was born n grew up in northern part of Nigeria, married a sourtherner, this app really help me. God bless u for me.

    • Chy Anegbu  June 16, 2017

      Thanks for your comment dear, God bless you too.

  47. Cindile  July 5, 2017

    Im south African but love nigerian food o.

  48. Favour  July 12, 2017

    D first day i tasted dis soup, it was so delicious dat i decided to find out d ingredient used in preparing it. Ofcus since i like trying new things in d kitchen. Tnx fr dis post cus just like i imagine it dat ws hw u made it. God bless u

  49. EnnyAnn  October 2, 2017

    Thanks for ur recipe on bitterleaf soup. Plate I’d like to know if the cocoyam added as thickner was first boiled before pounding or u just peel and pound. Thanks

  50. Walter  November 21, 2017

    Must I add ogiri, I don’t like it

  51. Bunmi  January 31, 2018

    Tnx 4 ds..i used affor..and it became soo thick ooo..but next tym i ll try it agn

    • Chy Anegbu  February 2, 2018

      ok, thanks for your feedback.

  52. itunuoluwa  March 22, 2018

    Thanks alot, I am a Yoruba lady that loves Igbo soups. I am cooking it today and your guide is simple. Would upload pictures soon.

  53. Folashade  June 8, 2018

    This is wonderful, kudos to chef chidi but please i have a question, i get how to add the other ingredients but how to pound the cocoyam (sorry is it the normal cocoayam or igbo cocoayam) is what is confusing because am a yoruba lady and so much cherish bitterleaf soup. Pls if you can make video on it, it will be highly appreciated

    • Chef Chidi  June 10, 2018

      We use a specie we call “Anambra cocoyam” that’s the common name. There are lots of species. Thanks for your feedback.

  54. Khadeejah  June 12, 2018

    This is lovely. I have learnt a lot, thanks.

  55. odiri  September 29, 2018

    Thanks alot, I can now cook bitter leave soup very well

  56. Judith  October 20, 2018

    Pls How do I use dried grounded cocoyam to cook bitter leaf soup

  57. Maria  November 12, 2018

    I really love this soup, at least now I can prepare it my self, tnx alot

  58. Grace  December 19, 2018

    Thanks Chy, I’ll give it a try today.

  59. Sarah  May 24, 2019

    I’m sure making this tonight…… Yummyyyy

  60. Smart Emmanuel  June 3, 2019

    Am a young guy that lives alone, i used ur exact procedures in cooking my ofe onugbu. When am done my close neigbours dat percieved the aroma dat comes out of my pot,, where this boy can cook for Africa…. All thanks too uu

  61. Damilola  June 11, 2019

    I know wif dis video I will b able to make it cos my hubby loves it. Thanks

  62. Charity oga  May 15, 2020

    Thank you for the recipe. But I am a bit confused about the cocoyam part. Did you boil the cocoyam before pounding or you pounded it raw?

    • Chy Anegbu  May 17, 2020

      Cook, then pound.

  63. Mrs Exclusive  September 25, 2020

    Wow great, exactly the way I do prepare my own ofe onugbu.


Add a Comment

Recipe Rating