Efo Riro - Nigerian Vegetable Soup

Efo Riro needs no introduction as it’s one of the most popular vegetable soups in Nigeria and an absolute favourite of the Yorubas. It’s quite an easy dish to prepare, as long as you follow the major instructions and requirements.

 All it needs to thrive is very rich beef/chicken stock, this means you need to properly season your meats as the stock is what really determines the outcome. I hardly add seasoning to it during the cooking process, I just rely on the stock….and my ever faithful Knorr Chicken Cubes.

If you’re using Spinach; which is very common, ensure you get rid of practically all the water in it before adding, failure to do this will produce limp and soggy Efo Riro.

Also, try to use as much assorted meats as you possibly can, the more the variety, the better. Another tip is to fry your meats lightly, this helps to firm up the meat and also improves the appearance and taste of your Efo Riro.

Now, let’s cook.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches Ugwu leaves ( you can also use Spinach or Kale)
  • 3 medium /2 big size bell peppers (Tatashe)
  • 11/2 scotch bonnet (Rodo)
  • 1/2 cup Palm Oil
  • 11/2 medium size red onions
  • Assorted meats of your choice ( Beef, Smoked turkey, Shaki, Kpomo, Cow leg,  are ideal)
  • Dried stockfish (Panla)
  • 1 tablespoon Locust beans (Iru)
  • 1/2 cup raw/cooked prawns (Optional)
  • 1/4 cup smoked prawns 
  • 2 Knorr chicken cubes or any bullion cubes of your choosing.
  • 3 tablespoons ground Crayfish
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

First, get your core  ingredients ready. Efo Riro is a fast cooking dish, so you’ll need to be proactive.

  1. Start by seasoning the meats. Add sliced onions and boil on medium heat. Remember to boil the tougher meats first, then add the softer ones. Just before it’s fully cooked, add the Stock-fish, boil till tender and set aside.
  2. Slice your spinach or Ugwu about medium sized. Wash your vegetables thoroughly (5 times is a good rule) with hot water to rid it of all traces of dirt, drain and set aside. Be careful not to in soak in hot water for too long so as to retain the nutrients. 
  3. Blend the scotch bonnets and bell peppers and an onion coarsely and set aside.
  4. Add the palm oil into a large pot, leave to heat up on medium heat for 2 minutes. Then add onions, fry till fragrant. Add the locust beans, fry to release the flavour for another minute.
  5. Pour in the blended pepper and two Knorr cubes, let that fry for about 15-20 minutes or until the pepper dries out and the size reduces by almost half. The consistency should be thick as a tomato paste.
  6. Add a bit of the meat stock/ chicken stock, if you haven’t got stock, use water, be careful not to add too much. Just one cup should do.
  7. Let it boil together for 2-3 minutes, then add the assorted meats, prawns, crayfish and stockfish.
  8. Stir and taste, adjust seasoning if required. Leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Now add the washed vegetables, stir well.
  10. Switch off the heat at this time, leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes with the residual heat and it’s ready. 
Serve with any “swallow” of your choice like pounded yam, amala, . Efo Riro is also prefect with white rice, boiled yam and plantain.

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