How To Prepare Ofe Nsala: The Traditional White Soup of The Nigerian Riverine Areas

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Ofe Nsala is a soup recipe of the eastern Igbos and riverine areas of the Niger Delta. It is also known as white soup and is high delicious and nutritious.

The riverine areas of the Nigerian Niger Delta parades delicious delicacies and soups that is bound to tempt any wayfarer or visitors. One of the most popular of such soups is nsala soup or white soup. It is called white soup because no edible oil is used for its preparation.

Nsala is an easy to prepare and tasty soup recipe. It is usually prepared for women who had just put to birth as it is known to be highly medicinal and very effective in preventing nausea. Though it has its origins from the riverine areas of Nigeria, it is a dish that is gladly savored by a host of other tribes from Nigeria.


  • Cat fish
  • Utazi leaves (crongromena ratifolia)
  • Raw white yam / yam powder / potato puree ( thickener)
  • Chili pepper
  • Salt
  • Ground crayfish / shrimps 
  • Seasonings ( 3 cubes of Maggi )
  • Ogiri Okpei (fermented castor oil seed; the Nigerian traditional seasoning)


Cut the Cat fish into about 1 inch thick cylindrical sizes and remove the intestines. Place these pieces in a bowl and pour some hot water on it. The hot water does two things: it removes the slime from the Cat fish and also toughens it to prevent from dissolving in the soup during preparations. Leave the cat fish in the water for about two minutes then wash with cold water.

Now boil a few cubes of raw white yam. When it becomes tender, pound with a pestle or yam pounding machine and set it aside in a bowl. You can also use yam powder or potato puree as alternatives.

Wash the Utazi leaves and slice into shreds. Now blend the chili pepper; the Cray fish and Utazi leaves and set them aside also. Remember that the Utazi is very bitter and is used solely for flavoring so one or two leaves should be enough.

Place the Cat fish in a cooking pot and add just enough water to cover the fish. Add your seasonings and cook till it is done. You could also add meat or stock fish to this soup recipe but they should not replace the Cat fish.

When the catfish is cooked, add the blend of Utazi, Chili pepper and Cray fish. Also add the potato puree or yam powder as thickener and salt to taste. It should be noted that it is the Cat fish that gives ofe nsala its unique taste so it should not be substituted with any other type of fish.

Cover the pot and allow to cook at high heat until all the yam paste has dissolved. At this point, your soup is ready to be devoured.

Nsala is usually served with pounded yam, semolina, amala or eba (garri).

Reference and Image Credits:


A. Smith
Posted on Feb 8, 2012
Roberta Baxter
Posted on Feb 8, 2012
Chris Stonecipher
Posted on Feb 2, 2012