How to Cook Afang Soup (Calabar Recipe)

 Afang Soup, a delectable delicacy from the Calabar region of Nigeria, is a mouthwatering and nutritious dish that's gaining popularity worldwide. Known for its unique blend of flavors and the incorporation of wild leafy vegetables, Afang Soup is a must try for any food enthusiast. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the step by step process of preparing this delicious dish. So, grab your apron, and let's embark on a culinary journey to master the art of cooking Afang Soup!



The first step in creating an exquisite Afang Soup is gathering the right ingredients. This soup boasts a rich and diverse list of components, which contributes to its unique flavor profile. Here's what you'll need:

1. Afang Leaves: The star of the show, Afang leaves (known scientifically as Gnetum Africanum), are wild, dark green, and slightly bitter. You can find them in African markets or use frozen alternatives if fresh leaves are not available.

2. Waterleaf: Waterleaf adds a subtle, slightly tangy taste to the soup. It's readily available in many Nigerian markets.

3. Protein: You can use a variety of proteins in Afang Soup, such as beef, goat meat, chicken, or seafood like prawns and fish. Choose your favorite or mix and match for a delightful twist.

4. Stockfish and Dry Fish: These two ingredients provide a unique depth of flavor. Be sure to soak the stockfish to soften it before cooking.

5. Palm Oil: Palm oil gives Afang Soup its characteristic rich color and a hint of nutty flavor.

6. Periwinkle: If you can find these small, edible sea snails, they're a popular addition to Afang Soup.

7. Ground Crayfish: This adds a distinct earthy flavor and aroma to the soup.

8. Pepper and Spices: Scotch bonnet peppers (habaneros) and assorted spices like crayfish powder, bouillon cubes, and salt are essential for seasoning.

9. Onions and Locust Beans: These provide additional layers of flavor.

10. Water: To achieve the desired consistency of the soup.

In the next section, we will delve into the preparation steps for Afang Soup, including the cleaning and processing of the ingredients.


Before you start cooking Afang Soup, it's crucial to prepare and process your ingredients properly. This ensures that your dish turns out flavorful and appetizing. Let's dive into the preparation steps:

Cleaning and Processing the Protein:

   - If you're using meat, chicken, or seafood, begin by washing them thoroughly.

   - Cut the meat or chicken into bite-sized pieces.

   - Season with salt, onions, and your choice of spices (e.g., bouillon cubes) and set aside to marinate for about 10-15 minutes.

Preparing the Stockfish and Dry Fish:

   - Soak the stockfish in hot water until it softens (usually overnight) and cut it into smaller pieces.

   - Remove any bones and undesirable parts from the dry fish, then rinse it thoroughly in warm water.

Washing the Vegetables:

   - Wash the Afang leaves and waterleaf separately to remove dirt and impurities.

   - Drain them in a sieve or colander and allow excess water to drip off.

Chopping the Vegetables:

   - Chop the Afang leaves and waterleaf finely. You can do this manually with a sharp knife or use a food processor for convenience.

   - Ensure that the Afang leaves are sliced thinly for a desirable texture in the soup.

Blending the Peppers:

   - Blend the Scotch bonnet peppers to a smooth paste. Adjust the quantity based on your preferred level of spiciness.

Preparing the Palm Oil:

   - Heat the palm oil in a separate pot until it becomes clear and loses its raw taste.

   - Be cautious not to overheat or burn the oil; keep it on low heat.

 Prepping Other Ingredients:

   - Grind the crayfish if you're using whole crayfish.

   - Rinse the locust beans (iru) if it's not already clean.

With your ingredients properly cleaned, chopped, and seasoned, you're now ready to move on to the cooking process in the next section.

Cooking Afang Soup

Now that you have all your ingredients prepared and ready, it's time to start cooking the delightful Afang Soup. Follow these steps carefully for a perfect result:

Cooking the Protein:

   - Place the marinated meat, chicken, or seafood in a large pot.

   - Add enough water to cover the protein and cook until it's tender and fully cooked. This may take about 30-45 minutes, depending on the type of protein.

   - Ensure the water level is reduced to allow for a concentrated stock.

Preparing the Stock:

   - Add the soaked and softened stockfish to the pot with the cooked protein.

   - Pour in the blended pepper paste, ground crayfish, and locust beans.

   - Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes to meld the flavors.

 Incorporating the Vegetables:

   - Gently stir in the palm oil and allow it to blend with the stock.

   - Add the chopped waterleaf and continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes. The waterleaf should wilt and soften.

 Adding the Afang Leaves:

   - Carefully add the chopped Afang leaves to the pot.

   - Stir well to ensure even distribution.

   - Allow the soup to simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the Afang leaves have fully softened.

Seasoning and Adjusting:

   - Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add more salt or seasoning cubes to suit your preference.

   - If you'd like a thicker consistency, you can let the soup simmer a bit longer.

 Incorporating Periwinkle (Optional):

   - If you're using periwinkle, add them to the soup during the last few minutes of cooking.

Final Check:

   - Once all the ingredients are well incorporated and the vegetables are tender, your Afang Soup is ready to serve.

 Serving Afang Soup:

   - Afang Soup is traditionally served hot and pairs perfectly with staple foods like garri, fufu, semolina, or pounded yam.

With these steps, you've successfully prepared a delicious pot of Afang Soup, a dish that celebrates the rich culinary heritage of Calabar. Enjoy the flavors and the satisfaction of mastering this traditional recipe!

In the next section, we will explore some tips and variations to enhance your Afang Soup cooking experience.

 Tips and Variations

Cooking Afang Soup is an art, and there are several tips and variations you can explore to make your dish even more delicious and unique. Let's take a look at some suggestions:

Experiment with Protein: While beef, chicken, and seafood are popular choices, don't hesitate to try other proteins like goat meat or even snails for a different twist.

 Spice It Up: Adjust the level of spiciness to your liking by adding more or fewer Scotch bonnet peppers.

Leafy Greens: If fresh Afang leaves are not available, you can use frozen alternatives. However, try to use fresh waterleaf for the best results.

Enhance Flavor: To enhance the flavor of your Afang Soup, consider using crayfish and locust beans that are sun-dried or smoked.

 Periwinkle Presentation: If you're serving Afang Soup for a special occasion, you can use periwinkle to garnish the dish for an attractive presentation.

 Leftovers: Afang Soup often tastes even better the next day, as the flavors have more time to meld. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

 Gluten-Free Option: If you prefer a gluten-free version, you can skip the addition of flour or thickeners and focus on the natural thickness provided by the vegetables.

 Nutritional Value: Afang Soup is not only delicious but also nutritious, thanks to its combination of vegetables and protein. It's rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Local Variations: Different regions in Nigeria have their own unique variations of Afang Soup. You can explore these regional recipes for a diverse culinary experience.

Cooking as a Group: Afang Soup is often prepared in large quantities during celebrations or gatherings. Consider making it a communal cooking experience with family and friends.

Cultural Significance: Learn about the cultural significance of Afang Soup in the Calabar region and share this knowledge with others as you enjoy the dish.

Remember, cooking Afang Soup is all about creativity and personal preferences. Feel free to adapt the recipe to suit your taste and enjoy the process of discovering your perfect blend of flavors.

In the final section of this article, we will provide some serving suggestions and additional resources for further exploration of Nigerian cuisine.

Serving and Further Exploration

Congratulations! You've successfully prepared a delicious pot of Afang Soup. Now, let's discuss how to serve this delightful dish and where you can explore more about Nigerian cuisine:

 Serving Afang Soup:

   - Afang Soup is traditionally served hot and is commonly enjoyed with staple foods like garri (eba), fufu, semolina, or pounded yam. These side dishes help balance the flavors and provide a satisfying meal.

Garnish and Presentation:

   - For an appealing presentation, you can garnish your Afang Soup with some extra periwinkle, chopped fresh vegetables, or a sprinkle of ground crayfish.

 Sharing the Experience:

   - Afang Soup is a communal dish in many Nigerian communities. Invite friends and family to enjoy this flavorful meal together and share the cultural experience.

Exploring Nigerian Cuisine:

   - Nigerian cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors and dishes. If you're intrigued by Afang Soup, consider exploring other Nigerian recipes such as Jollof Rice, Egusi Soup, or Suya (grilled skewered meat).

 Cultural Learning:

   - Take the opportunity to learn more about the rich cultural traditions of the Calabar region and Nigeria as a whole. Food often provides a window into a country's history and heritage.

Cookbooks and Resources:

   - Explore cookbooks, blogs, and YouTube channels dedicated to Nigerian cuisine. These resources can provide you with more recipes, tips, and inspiration.

 Culinary Adventures:

   - Don't hesitate to experiment with other African cuisines as well. Each region has its own unique culinary treasures waiting to be discovered.

As you savor your homemade Afang Soup, remember that cooking is not just about creating a meal; it's about connecting with culture, sharing experiences, and enjoying the journey of culinary exploration.

We hope this guide has inspired you to embark on a flavorful adventure in your kitchen. Afang Soup is not just a dish; it's a celebration of tradition, flavor, and the joy of cooking.

Thank you for joining us on this culinary journey. Enjoy your Afang Soup and the wonderful world of Nigerian cuisine!


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