As I write I am so exhausted. I love what I do; do not get me wrong. I am just tired from the lack of sleep. I also don’t know if it is the heat, but I am not feeling too great. It is Father’s day in a couple of days and I had the intention of making something elaborate, but please how many men care about that? 🙂 I have brothers who can cook up a storm but they rather throw everything into one pot and cook away. Most of my culinary skills come from watching my folks cook. I wonder how my brother threw everything together in one pot and came out of the kitchen with a pot full of yumminess.
The Nigerian pepper soup; be it with chicken or with assorted meats is a huge Nigerian staple. It is a huge appetizer at Nigerian parties. There is no Nigerian party without pepper soup.
Since Father’s day is in a few days, I would have rather cooked my father’s Egusi soup for this post, but that is one recipe I hold dear as my father passed away 15years ago. I felt a part of me died when he passed away. It was difficult understanding death and how to deal with it. When my father passed away, I did not cry and I did not understand why. It was years later when I had my first child, I began to really miss him. Don’t get me wrong, my father’s death was a huge shock to me. I don’t know how I bottled it up for years and one day while I carried my baby in my arms, I felt my body break into pieces. I cried until I almost fainted. Imagine, no father to carry my baby, to see my baby, to tell me that I will be okay. I have my good and bad days. I still have the days I cry, I have the days I smile, I have the days where I have to talk to myself, I have the days where I sit and wonder. It has not been an easy journey, but it has been okay.
Before my father died he was a little ill and mother had gone to stay with him at the hospital. She arrived home that sunny afternoon in September and as she walked into the house, her words were “Your father is dead.” She said it in our dialect…Igbo(Nma Nna gi awu’ go!)… I immediately went into the bathroom, showered and began walking. I must have walked a couple of miles when I remembered my mother and I ran home. The only man she ever knew was gone…died in her arms… I did not cry but inside of me I was hurting emotionally. The last thing he told me was “go to your class, good bye”…I was scared…he never said good bye. he would say come home early or when I’ld say I am off to class he would nod. I should have stayed home with him 🙁
I always thought my dad was immortal.
I saw him lie in state and I did not know what to think. I carried on until I got older with two ajebutters. The memories of my father is something I share with my ajebutters. I tell them how kind he was…. I always say that nobody can tell me anything else about my dad 🙂
He believed in the education of women. I still remember how he used to whistle and dust his feet and knock the door and my siblings and I would scramble to keep the house neat.
My dad pushed himself to do better. I remember his graduation day and the small party we had…I remember the fried meat and jollof rice my mom made(that fried meat though)…I remember how my dad was beaming with smiles while he had on his graduation outfit…I thought he looked weird…give me a break I was little 🙂 With that cap and gown, he looked like he was in the church choir 🙂
My dad taught me how to cook his version of Egusi(Melon seed) soup and gosh did I dislike cooking. Now his recipe is my everything…Funny how you hold on to people once they pass on. That is why I say always show love to everyone so they see your love while they are alive.
My dad meant a lot to me…emotionally I am not all the way mended from his death. But one thing I could not do is forget you daddy.
Back to the recipe 🙂 this is my Auntie’s way of making pepper soup. She used to add a whole lot to her pepper soups. She did the red bell pepper in it too, but I do chopped Basil i.e. scent leaves instead. There is a “Lazy” twist to this recipe. If you are one of those people who cannot be bothered to check the cooking pot each time, you could make it in the slow cooker. Trust me, pop it in the slow cooker with the ingredients and run all your errands, 5 hours later you will have your chicken pepper soup with the chicken falling off the bones. I slow cooked mine on the stove and my chicken was quite soft. If you do not own a slow cooker, the stove will surely work. Just bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer until the spices have mixed nicely.
This is an easy recipe for you for “Daddy day” especially if Daddy wants something hearty and easy. You may serve it with rice or vegetables like peas and carrots. I always eat mine with bulgur, potatoes or vegetables since I am doing my best to be on team #fitfam. Making my pot was fun and the aftermath of the cooking was epic! Even my guest was too pleased and the whole pot was gone in a flash. Eureka!
Happy Father’s day
ps: you can get pepper soup spices in form of a powder from any African shop. It usually comprises of Ehuru i.e. Calabash nut meg(the round pods below), Uda i.e. Negro pepper(The longer pods below). To use Uda, you have to open up the pod and remove the seeds(they are bitter to the taste), roast the empty pods and add to the pepper soup(remove after cooking). A few sprigs is okay. Then there is the Uziza seeds i.e. piper guineense. which is shaped like the black peppercorn. I usually use the pepper soup powder along with more Ehuru and Uziza. For this recipe, I did not use Uda. I was messing with the pods and I over smashed it. I could not be bothered, so I left it out 🙂
- 1½ lb of the boiler chicken
- 1tbsp of Nigerian pepper soup spice
- 4 habanero peppers i.e. ata-rodo
- 1 tsp Uziza i.e. piper guineense
- 4 toasted ehuru seeds or calabash nutmeg(toasted)
- 1 small garlic clove(grated)
- Half of a medium onion
- 1inch of ginger(grated)
- 1 Knorr cube
- salt to taste
- 2½- 3tbsps of Nigerian pepper soup spices
- salt to taste
- 1tbsp of grinded crayfish
- ½tsp of utazi i.e. gongronema latifolium . You may substitute with rocket leaves
- a hand full of sliced basil or scent leaf for garnishing
- ½ tbsp. of olive or vegetable oil(optional)
- Cut chicken into desired pieces. Wash and pat dry.
- Blend all the ingredients from part a into a smooth paste. Season the chicken with salt and toss with the blended paste. Cover and let it sit for 30minutes to 12 hours.
- After marinating, pour the chicken into a soup pot along with enough water to cook it. Season it with the remaining pepper soup spices and cook until meat is tender(you may use a slow cooker at this point. Pour in all your seasonings with enough water and slow cook on high for about 4 hours; making sure you add the Utazi along with the garnishes once the soup is done).If using the stove top, you may add more water at anytime and adjust the seasonings if you need to. once the meat is tender, add the utazi, crayfish and oil. Then stir to combine. Serve with freshly chopped basil and any side of your choice