Bitterleaf Soup

Bitterleaf soup is eaten by many Nigerians although the delicious soup is now being relished as a unity soup in Nigeria, a continental soup in Africa and a global and cultural phenonmenon around the world, especially where Nigerians are found.

Bitterleaf is botanically known as vernonia amygdalina.

The green bitter leaf is a member of the daisy family and a small shrub that grows in tropical Africa.

Commonly called bitter leaf in English because of its bitter taste, other African common names include Congo Bololo (D. R. Congo), grawa (Amharic), ewuro (Yoruba), etidot (Efik), onugbu (Igbo), ityuna (Tiv), oriwo (Edo), Awɔnwono (Akan), chusar-doki or shuwaka (Hausa), mululuza (Luganda), labwori (Acholi), olusia (Luo), ndoleh (Cameroon) and olubirizi (Lusoga).

Bitterleaf is very good for consumption and it grows virtually everywhere, more so as it is seen as a very homely plant. This is because, wherever it grows, it flourishes.

Perhaps the most distinctive part of the bitter-leaf plant is its bitterness. 

  • Bitterleaf has been used as food and medicine for centuries in Africa.
  • It has been used in the management and treatment of a number of health conditions.
  • These include malaria, diabetes, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, fatigue and cough.
  • Bitter leaf is consumed at least once a day by most people in the southeastern part of Nigeria as traditional soup.
  • Traditional soups made from bitterleaf are used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
  • Bitterleaf juice is also a very good healthy juice, but must be taken with caution. Too much itake can lead to anaemia.
  • In a new study, researchers warn that high consumption of bitter leaf by humans can lead to anaemia, especially in menstruating and pregnant women.

Lets visit the kitchen and see how the soup is prepared. And better still, you can find the quick fix preparation on Gourmet Guide234 Kitchen on Youtube

Recipe for 3 servings:

1 onion (crushed)

1 cup cocoyam (ede)

1 big bunch bitter leaf (shredded and washed)

1 kilogram beef and assorted meat

3 large mangala or okpo dry fish (washed)

1 large stockfish (washed)

3 tablespoons ground crayfish

1 teaspoon ground ogiri (locust beans)

2 cooking spoons palm oil

Salt and seasoning to taste

4 pieces cameroun or nsukka yellow pepper (crushed)

Ogiri or locust beans or dadawa to taste


  • Wash and season the meats.
  • Add enough salt, season to taste and onions.
  • Cover and cook until tender. 
  • Uncover the pot and add the washed fish, stock fish and crayfish, as well as pepper.
  • In another pot, add some water and cook the washed cocoyam {ede} until tender
  • Remove from heat, drain off the water, peel of the bark and pound like pounded yam until very smooth and pulpy.
  • Scoop into a small plate and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, pour the palm oil into the meat pot.
  • Cover until the colour becomes lighter.
  • Uncover and add the cocoyam paste.
  • Cover the pot again and allow to cook until the paste has melted into a thick consistency.
  • Uncover, simmer, stir and add other remaining ingredients (the soup must not be watery).
  • Add the washed bitter leaf stir gently and simmer fro 90 seconds.
  • Taste for salt seasoning and pepper.
  • Remove from heat and serve with any simple swallow you like
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