How to Cook Egusi Soup


Start to Finish: 2 hours

Servings: 4 to 6

Difficulty: Beginner

Made with the prized seeds of a bitter melon, Nigerian egusi soup has several modes and styles of preparation. Exotic ingredients may include goat meat, dried fish, powdered crayfish or pounded yam -- but the most elusive ingredient is the egusi itself. The seeds can be imported fresh or ground, but some enterprising cooks have employed clever substitutes such as pumpkin seeds.


  • 2 tablespoons palm oil
  • 1 pound flank steak or goat meat
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup dried fish or dried crayfish
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes 
  • 4 minced hot peppers of your choice
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups ground egusi seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup chopped spinach or chard
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil


Step 1

In a large heavy skillet, sear the meat, adding salt on the first turn.

Step 2

Reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle on the dried fish or crayfish. Add the sliced onion, and crumble 2 of the bouillon cubes on top.

Step 3

Stir while cooking, and as soon as everything is combined, add the hot peppers, still stirring. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan diligently, and cook for 2 minutes.

Step 4

Transfer the contents of the pan into a large soup pot and add 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 5

After 30 minutes, check to see if the meat is fork tender. If it's not ready and the liquid is sparse, just add a little more water and continue to cook, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30 more minutes.

Step 6

When the meat is tender, add the ground egusi (or pumpkin) seeds, the chopped greens and the remaining 2 bouillon cubes. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.


  • Some like clumps in egusi soup. To form them, just squish up the egusi seeds with a bit of oil and deep fry them. Add them to the soup just before serving.

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