Black soup, also known as Efirin soup, Scent leaf soup, or Eweluje is an incredibly delicious Nigerian soup, traditionally eaten with fufu dishes. One taste of this African soup and you will be hooked!
I had never tasted black soup when growing up in Nigeria but my husband grew up eating it. In his hometown, this soup is known as Eweluje soup. The first time I tasted this African soup, I was floored!
This soup has an amazing texture and flavor that reminds me of Banga soup. I used to bug my husband endlessly to make it every week until I eventually learned to make it myself!
What is Scent leaf?
Scent leaf (Ocimum gratissimum) is a type of basil leaf grown in Africa, South Asia, Mexico, Hawaii, and many other countries. It goes by many names, including African basil, tree basil, clove basil, and wild basil.
Scent leaf is called Efirin by the Yorubas, Nchuanwu by the Igbos and Daidoya by the Hausas. It is enjoyed by many tribes in Nigeria and used to make different nutrition-packed soups that are eaten with fufu.
Scent leaf has a lot of nutritional benefits and is commonly used to treat constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, and to improve gut health.
Where can I get scent leaf from?
If you live in Nigeria, scent leaf is quite popular and you can get it from most market places. But if you live outside Nigeria, it is quite tricky to get.
For the longest time, I would have to wait till someone was visiting from Nigeria so they could bring some to the U.S. But that meant I would go months without eating my beloved soup.
So I searched around African, Asian and Hispanic markets to see if I could get something close. I eventually found some Japanese mint leaves that came very close and tasted almost exactly the same as when I made Efirin soup.
These Japanese mint leaves (known as perilla shiso) are not the same as regular mint leaves or basil leaves. The leaves are green and purple in color and are a lot larger than traditional mint leaves.
You can use the green leaves only or both green and purple leaves to make the scent leaf soup.
Ingredients used in making black soup
Nigerian Scent leaves: I use about two cups for this recipe.
Ground Egusi (melon) seeds: You don't have to include egusi seeds but I love the texture and flavor it introduces.
Palm Oil: This gives the soup a very rich, traditional, and earthy flavor.
Meat (cooked): You can use any cooked meat you have and can even substitute it with fish.
Spices: cayenne pepper, bouillon (or maggi cubes), ground crayfish, and salt to taste.
Stock or water.
How to make Nigerian black soup
This is one of the easiest Nigerian soups to cook. First, remove the stems from the basil leaves and rinse.
Add the leaves and ground egusi seeds to a blender with a little water and blend till pureed. Pour the blended mix into a pot.
There will still be quite a bit left in the blender because the mixture is very thick. Pour roughly 1 cup of water into the blender, give it a shake and pour it into the pot.
Add the palm oil, cayenne pepper, bouillon, and crayfish. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
Add your cooked beef and stock. You can use water if you don't have stock but will need to adjust the spices. Taste for salt and add some if you need it.
Cook for 10 minutes with the pot covered. If it is too thick, add just a little bit of water about a ½ cup at a time.
Serve and enjoy!
This soup serves 6 and contains 1 net carb per serving. It keeps well in the fridge for up to a week and can be frozen.
What can I eat this soup with?
Nigerian black soup goes great with rice or fufu. For a nutritious low-carb meal, enjoy this soup with one of these keto fufu dishes!
Black Soup (Nigerian Efirin Soup)
- 4 cups Efirin leaves (scent leaf)
- 1 cup ground egusi seeds
- ½ cup palm oil
- 2 lbs beef
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 2 maggi cubes or 1 tablespoon bouillon powder
- 1 tablespoon crayfish
- 1 cup stock/water
- salt to taste
- Remove stems from basil leaves and rinse.
- Blend basil leaves with egusi seeds and pour the mixture into a pot.
- Add about ½ - 1 cup of water to the blender, shake and pour into the pot as well.
- Add palm oil, cayenne pepper, maggi (bouillon), and crayfish.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
- Add cooked beef and stock and cook for 10 minutes with the pot covered.
- Taste for salt and add some if you need it.
- Serve and enjoy!
- If the soup is too thick, add some more water, about ½ cup at a time till you reach your desired consistency.
- Don't make it too watery, because the soup will thicken some more when left overnight in the fridge.
Check out these delectable traditional African soups!
Ojo Titilayo says
Hmm , the Efirin I do cook for my family, hmm is most time bitter but the next day it taste good sha because the Efirin blended leaf is in a large quantity(at least 15servings)
So I don't know how I can do it to make it sweet
it's consuming lots of Maggi
I'm not sure what's causing this, but maybe you might need to wash it a bit more.
Taylor, could you use dried scent leaf? If so how much would you sa?
Yes, you can use dried scent leaves as well. Since it's more compact, you only need 1/2 to 1 cup depending on the quantity you're making. Hope this helps!
Onoriode Idumu says
Very delicipus soup. Cooked it for the first time yesterday but i put the efirin blended with fresh pepper at the end.
Efirin soup is truly one of my favorite Nigerian soups. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!