This flavorful Efo riro soup/stew is perfect for a weekend lunch or dinner, serve over rice or with fufu.
This one is for the motherland and all the adventurous foodies that love to delve into continental dishes. Warning! You might be too addicted to letting go.
As the native name implies, Efo riro is a green vegetable soup/sauce. This leafy soup is well known with the Yoruba’s from the southwestern part of Nigeria. Although they use a different type of green leaf for this soup, spinach and kale will do just fine.
What gives this soup its distinctive taste is the use of Irú (a.k.a Fermented locust beans). Even though this seed’s scent might be unpleasant to some, it doesn’t take away from its health benefits like helping to control cholesterol levels, diabetes, and weight loss.
A little backstory, my love for this soup is dated back to 2006 while we were residing in Switzerland. It wasn’t easy finding some of our local Nigerian ingredients in the African grocery stores as they usually run out or take several months to stock up.
My family was obsessed with Afang soup, a different type of leafy soup, but not having the complete ingredients to prepare it most times left us helpless. One day, my mom suggested we go a different route that is really healthier than our favorite soup. It was easy to find spinach, Kale, greens at the big chain grocery stores, so why not make something that we could easily get our hands on when we feel like having swallow (what we generally use to eat this efo soup).
Once in a while, we ask a friend visiting from Nigeria to buy the locust bean to freeze it for future use. Problem solved right there! No more starved taste buds. We could make our favorite soup in a snap without having to wait for the overly priced African grocery store.
This efo riro soup has become a staple in my household, not just for its flavorful taste but the ease of making it.
HOW TO MAKE EFO RIRO SOUP
I made this stew with spinach, kale (optional), tomato paste, red bell pepper (tatashe), onion, fermented locust bean (Iru), crayfish, onion, ginger, and a host of others. Like I said earlier, the soup is pretty easy to put together. In short, all you need to do is;
1) process the pepper, ginger, onion, and garlic roughly in the food processor.
2) fry the pepper and tomato paste, add meat of choice, and finally, add the vegetables.
Although I used tomato paste, you can use fresh tomatoes; this will add more cooking time. Feel free to use beef, chicken, shrimp, or fish. If you are vegan, you can use mushrooms as a substitute.
For the vegetables, you can use fresh leaves. I mostly use frozen spinach and kale because they are readily available year-round. Enjoy this stew with rice, couscous, quinoa, injera, wheat fufu, and lots more. The best part of making the stew is that it freezes well. Usually, I prepare twice as much as I need and store it in the freezer for up to two weeks.
In my personal opinion, it tastes much better after sitting in the refrigerator overnight. Lest I forget, you can find the fermented locust bean at most African grocery stores and online.
I have turned a whole community into believers of this delicious dish, and I hope that you are, too. Please, don’t forget to share, pin and leave me a comment below if you tried it.
EFO RIRO (NIGERIAN SPINACH SOUP)
This soup is so rich and easy to make, it's easily adaptable to suit your lifestyle !
- -24oz chopped frozen spinach (680g)
- -24oz chopped frozen kale (680g)
- -1 tablespoon Iru (locust bean), thoroughly rinsed
- -1 cup fish shred , washed and boned (optional, I used kini fish)
- - cooked meat of choice (I used goat meat)
- -3 tablespoons ground crayfish
- -4 oz thin tomato paste
- -1/2 cup palm oil
- -1/2 of a medium onion
- -3 sweet pepper (optional)
- -3 red bell peppers
- -2 garlic cloves
- -1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger (optional)
- -2 habanero peppers
- -1 knorr cube or 2 tablespoons powder bouillon
- -salt to taste
- Step 1 – Add the peppers, onion, garlic, and ginger into a food processor. Pulse about 3 to 4 times until roughly chopped.
- Step 2 - Add the palm oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat
- Step 3 once it’s hot, carefully add the pepper mixture and iru. fry for about 7-10 minutes, often stirring to avoid burning.
- Step 4 - Add the seasoning cube, salt, crayfish, and fish shreds. Stir to combine. Cover loosely and simmer on medium-low heat for 3mins.
- Step 5 -Add the cooked meat and very little beef stock or water if the sauce is too thick. Allow simmering for 5 minutes.
- Step 6 - Meanwhile, run your frozen vegetable under cold running water until thawed. Squeeze out any excess water from the vegetable.
- Step 7 - Add the vegetable and combine with sauce. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 4 minutes, adjust taste and remove from heat.
- Step 8 - The soup is ready to serve. Store remaining soup in a food storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for 2-3 weeks. PS: If you don’t want to run the vegetable underwater, add it directly to the soup. Make sure to skip adding water or stock as mentioned earlier
- Step 9 else, the soup will be watery.