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 and can also be refrigerated for a very long time (even though I recommend two weeks at most for most Naija soups)

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 and that is what you will find in the video 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.

Ingredients For making Bitterleaf Soup

This would serve about ten person person or more depending on stomach size and all. 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 Nigerian Bitter Leaf Soup

  • 2kg Meat of choice (beef, chicken, pork, turkey)
  • 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)


The bitter leave soup takes almost the same process as the making of uha 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 uha to one and bitter leaf to the other.

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

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

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.

Parboil meat with every necessary ingredients, use 3 cube of maggi or knorr, a teaspoon of salt and half cup of onions. Allow to boil for 10 minutes then add water and cook till the meat is tender.

Add the (hot-water) washed dry fish, stock fish 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). 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) 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

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Video On Making Bitterleaf Soup (Ofe Onugbu)

Here is the video on 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 a videos for most of the foods listed on this site

Compare bitterlaf soups & 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?


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