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Ogbono Soup

Ogbono Soup is a Nigerian meat and vegetable stew thickened with ogbono seed. Ogbono is the dried seed of the African mango tree, and it is ground and used as a powerful thickener with an earthy flavour. Ogbono soup is popular everywhere in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Each region has its own variations, but meat, greens and ogbono seeds are common elements.

Ogbono Soup
Ogbono Soup is a Nigerian meat and vegetable stew thickened with ogbono seed. Ogbono is the dried seed of the African mango tree, and it is ground and used as a powerful thickener with an earthy flavour. Ogbono soup is popular everywhere in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Each region has its own variations, but meat, greens and ogbono seeds are common elements.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup ground ogbono seed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 - 3 chilli peppers, minced
  • 700 g beef, cut into cubes (see notes)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cups water or stock
  • 1 bunch greens, chopped (see notes)
  • 1 cup okra, cut into rounds
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat ½ cup of the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the ogbono seed and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and chilli peppers and saute until the onion becomes translucent, 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add the meat and tomatoes and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes. Then stir in the water / stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 1 hours, or until the meat is starting to get tender.
  4. Whisk a spoonful of hot soup liquid into the fried ogbono. Then whisk the ogbono into to simmering soup, followed by the greens and okra. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with fufu or rice.
Notes
Substitutes for Ogbono: Ground ogbono seeds also go by the names agbono, apon, etima, dika and odika. They can be hard to find if you don't have an African market near you. You can get some of the effect of their thickening properties by doubling the amount of okra. Or try substituting ground pumpkin seeds (pepitas).
Meats: Any kind of meat can be used in ogbono soup. Beef and goat and bushmeat are popular, but you can use chicken also. Other meat options are oxtails, tripe and kpomo (cow skin).
Fish and Seafood: Fresh, dried, or smoked fish are common — and for some, essential — additions to a pot of ogbono soup. So are fresh or dried snails, shrimp or crayfish, which are often ground to a powder. Use anywhere from ½ cup to 500 g according to your taste. Add the fish or seafood at the same time you add the ogbono, greens and okra. Whole dried fish should be presoaked before adding to the soup.
Greens: Use spinach, collards, turnip greens or kale. Or if you have access to them, use local Nigerian greens like ugwu, igbo, waterleaf or bitterleaf.
Most Africans would throw in a couple Maggi® cubes for added flavour.
The tomatoes can be eliminated if you prefer.

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