As I promised, I re-created this in my kitchen again so I could take pictures. I prepared this in my friend’s kitchen for her husband’s birthday party and I was so busy with everything else that I forgot to keep some aside to take home with me. Little did I know that it will be so well received by the guests, that it disappeared in record time. I would like to mention that this dish was the last thing that I cooked, so I underestimated the speed at which it will be consumed because other party favourites like jollof rice, fried rice, giz-dodo, egusi and the likes had already been served. You would expect that the guests would have been stuffed by then, but as soon as the aroma of pepper soup started floating around, calls for when will be be ready, when will it be ready were ringing high.
Once it was served, many people were asking for seconds, so, what was left in the pot (a massive, massive pot I must say) was so small that I had to let it go so my friend could at least have some to eat. Sad face smiley. I mentioned in an earlier post that a pre-teen announced loudly to his mum that this was the best pepper soup that he had ever tasted. I intend to prepare this again soon, in the comfort of my own kitchen, away from hungry mouths. Luckily, a friend of mine just had a baby and what best to take to visit her than pepper soup. I know that traditionally it should be Fish pepper soup but I have already written about that and I included pictures. Since this post was lacking in pictures, I chose to go with meat. I am sure she would not mind.
No party is complete without pepper soup. It is one of those dishes that tastes better the larger the volume you prepare. The only reason I can think of is that the sheer volume of meat, peppersoup spices and special scenting leaves intensifies the overall flavour to a large extent. When I say assorted meat, I truly mean assorted meat. Any part of the animal you can tolerate, please use. The more the merrier. Also make it as spicy as possible. Hey, it is a party, your guests should be expecting something unusual, compared to what they get in their homes. You have also provided plenty of cold drinks so they will be just fine. No matter how yummy it looks to your friends, especially non-Nigerians who don’t tolerate spicy food please steer them clear of pepper soup if you don’t want an ambulance coming to your house. This isn’t made for the family pepper soup, this is party pepper soup.
You will need
500 – 700g of assorted meats comprising:
Goat meat – this should take up a very high ratio. Goat meat has a very distinct flavour that works beautifully in pepper soup
Saki – tripe
Pomo – cow skin or hide – the smoked variety if you can find
Lung – fuku
Lamb – a small portion
Efinrin (fresh or dried) – scent leaf/nchawu
Ground pepper soup spices – at least 2 cooking spoons based on the volume of meats
2 Red onions
5 – 7 pieces of Ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil – i use olive oil or sunflower oil
You are probably thinking, nothing new here. Dunni, I know how to make pepper soup. Sure you do, but I have a very snazzy tip I use when making assorted meat pepper soup for a large party and it is a winner. Trust me.
1. Cut all the meats into bite sized pieces and separate the offals into a different pot.
Offals – orisirisi
Meats – you should boil saki and cowleg with the meat
I will tell you the reason why below. In the pot containing the meats add water with a volume twice that of the volume of the meats. Not enough water you are thinking? I will explain why later. There is a method to this.
2. Blend all the ata rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero), onions and ginger, then add to the pot. Dooney’s Kitchen tip: unlike with fish pepepr soup, it is a better choice to blend the ata rodo rather than chop finely. Pepper forms part of the seasoning and you need it in a smaller surface area, so as to penetrate the meats. As for the ginger, blending it smoothly is self explanatory. No one wants to bite on ginger.
Depending on how much meats you have add at least one cooking spoonful of pepper soup spices. If you have a lot of meat, start with two for now. Season with salt and pepper and cook under high heat.
3. In the pot containing the offals, chop half of a red onion and add to the pot. Followed by salt and seasoning cubes. Let this boil under high heat till the offals are cooked. Offals have a more absorbent texture compared to meat. Hey, back to high school biology, we know the functions these offals perform in the body, so despite only boiling it with onions, salt and seasoning in a separate pot at first, when it is introduced into the pot of meats it will still absorb the spices, pepper and ata rodo.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you may be wondering why I didn’t cook everything at once. You don’t boil offals with meat because offals have more blood within their walls, compared with the flesh of the animal, so the stock that is produced from boiling is very dark dark because it is full of cooked and congealed blood (yuck) which you throw away. You definitely don’t want this in your pepper soup.
4. Offals cook very fast due to their texture, so it is going to cook faster than the meats. Once cooked, pour the contents into a sieve to drain off the stock. Check on the meats, it should be boiling and bubbly by now.
If not, let it continue cooking till it is so bubbly that you can’t notice the oils from the meats floating on top. Once this happens, then you taste the stock. It gets interesting now.
5. Add all the offals to the pot and stir. Let this cook under high heat for 10 minutes, then taste the stock. It will be less strong than it was before you added the offals because some of its potency has been absorbed. Also taste the offals, you will notice the absorption.
At this point, add another cooking spoonful of pepper soup spices. if you are cooking a lot, add two. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: This is to intensify the flavour of the spices in the meat. It is a foodie peeve of mine to eat assorted meat pepper soup and only the soup contains the flavour, while it is sorely lacking in the meats.
6. Once you have added the extra spies, lower the heat and let it cook for another 10 – 15 minutes. Don’t worry, about the soup. It will taste like an over kill of spices, but your goal for now is to season the meats.
7. While the pot is simmering on low heat, chop the efinrin or basil. Chop it finely. You will need at least a handful. If you are cooking a large portion, you will need more. Add the Olive oil, to give the pepper soup some sheen.
8. Once simmering is done, increase the heat and add hot water in stages. i.e. pour water in the pot, stir, let it boil for 2 minutes and taste. If the spices are still too strong, add water again, wait for two minutes and taste. Repeat this process until you get to a taste level that you like. Re-season with salt and seasoning cubes then add the chopped leaves and stir to properly combine. Let this boil until the vegetables change colour from bright green to a darker green and you can taste the essence of the herbs in the soup.
…………and that’s it. Bon Appetite.
I have one last tip though. Unless you have to pack up the soup into big serving bowls and take to the party venue, leave the pepper soup on very low heat while you are serving. Never take it off the heat. Just leave it to simmer away nicely on the cooker while you serve your guests.