This flavorful Efo riro soup/stew is perfect for a weekend lunch or dinner. You can serve this efo riro recipe with 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.
What is the meaning of Efo Riro?
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 native leafy soup dates back to 2006 while we resided in Switzerland. Finding some of our local Nigerian ingredients in the African grocery stores wasn’t easy, 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 often 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).
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Once in a while, we ask a friend visiting 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 its ease of making it.
Efo Riro Ingredients
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 the meat of choice, and finally, add the vegetables.
Although I used tomato paste, you can make this efo riro with tomatoes (fresh); 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 to make this dish vegetarian Efo riro.
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.
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HOW TO COOK EFO RIRO SOUP
First, you start by cooking the animal protein. Cook the toughest ones first like goat, cow, pomo, e.t.c, Then add the likes of shaky (Tripes) much later.
Next, saute or cook the tomato puree or paste. If you are using fresh tomatoes, it’s best to cook it first until it has reduced in volume; this way, it takes less time to put the dish together. This is also the point where you add the Iru (locust bean.
While the tomato base is cooking, start adding the animal protein from earlier and the stock, a little at a time, depending on the consistency you like. Add the seasonings.
Finally, stir in the vegetables and cook for a few minutes. The soup is ready to be devoured.
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.
You might be wondering,
Is Efo Riro Healthy?
I am no nutritionist, but any dish with an abundance of vegetables sounds pretty healthy to me. To make it even healthier, use less palm oil or sieve oil from the top of a tomato-based stew and use it as a substitute for palm oil.
Also, you can cut down on the amount of meat in this dish by using only less fatty fish, shrimp, snail, or meaty mushrooms like cremini, shiitake, portabello. Better yet, leave it out. You might not be guaranteed the same great taste, but it’ll be close.
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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.
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