Sweet Pepper Soup Recipe


This Sweet Pepper Soup Recipe is pure and simply delicious. It takes minutes to prepare and has just a handful of ingredients. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity — this soup is brimming with fresh, seasonal flavors and a little touch of heat. Find more recipe here Sweet pepper soup made using homemade broth and fresh vegetables. This soup is perfect for lunch on a cool fall day. This easy vegetable soup recipe also freezes well.

Nigerian Pepper Soup Recipe

A one-pot dish that’s defined by the nutty, bitter, woodsy, and floral notes imparted by a mix of spices and herbs.

Nigerian pepper soup in a white bowl.


  • Toasting the spices before grinding develops their flavors. 
  • A homemade blend of spices delivers more flavor than a store-bought mix.
  • Using skin-on, bone-in chicken produces a deeply flavorful soup with a rich texture.

Pepper soup―a comforting Nigerian soup seasoned with a spice blend and fresh lemongrass―is popular year-round, enjoyed across the country and served by street food vendors in bars and restaurants from the rainy season (March to November) to harmattan (November to March), the dry season that begins with dust-laden winds blowing over the country from the Sahara. The name is a misnomer because the soup isn’t necessarily defined by a pepper-forward flavor profile―the flavors are much more complex, with nutty, bitter, woodsy, and floral notes, as well as warmth. 

This one-pot dish marries a deeply-flavored broth with a protein. For meat, it’s common to use chicken (stewing hens, instead of broilers, are preferred for their fuller flavor), goat, or cow’s foot, along with an assortment of offal, such as tripe, intestines, liver, and kidney. As for seafood, you’ll see versions made with tilapia, catfish, croaker, snapper, or dried fish. There are places that even offer ‘point-and-kill’ option, where you can select live catfish from a tank and have it be prepared to order―whole, cut into chunks, head included or removed, with herbs, and with varying spice levels, according to your tastes. And then there’s party pepper soup, commonly made with a mix of meat and offal, which is often served as the first course at Nigerian parties. 

The broth is seasoned with a blend of usually two or more indigenous spices (whole, crushed, or finely ground), like erhe (calabash nutmeg), urheri/uda (grains of Selim), alligator pepper (grains of paradise), umilo (cocoplum), and gbafilo (rough-skinned plum). Once you’ve decided on your protein, it’s simply a matter of combining it with the spice blend, water, and herbs like lemongrass leaves, which are used as medicine and food in Nigeria, incorporated into tonics, tea, broths). Growing up, my mum often added lime leaves (not a common addition but one that pairs well). Others like to add some heft to their broth by incorporating tomatoes, onions, and fresh chiles. To finish, it’s common to add some shredded scent leaf (Ocimum gratissimum), an herb that’s related to mint and basil. 

Erhe (calabash nutmeg), urheri/uda (grains of Selim), alligator pepper (grains of paradise), umilo (cocoplum), and gbafilo (rough-skinned plum) on a white plate.

My favorite version of pepper soup is from the Niger Delta region in southern coastal Nigeria, which is distinguished by the fact that it uses more spices in its spice blend. When I was a kid, my mum and grandma made various versions of it, including a thick, creamy soup called ukodo, in which yams and/or unripe plantains are cooked directly in the broth seasoned with akaun (a native alkaline rock salt that contributes a slightly mineral and earthy essence). As the vegetables cook, they soften, yielding a pepper soup with a thicker, sauce-like consistency.

For the version below, which is made with chicken and inspired by my mum and grandmother, I start by mixing, toasting, and grinding spices―nutty erhe, smoky and musky urheri, aromatic and spicy alligator pepper with notes of ginger, pepper and cardamom, and nutty-tasting umilo and gbafilo―to yield a deeply-flavored, full-bodied blend. Once that’s done, I combine the chicken, ground crayfish (a powder made from smoked and/or dried shrimp and prawns known locally as crayfish), lemongrass leaves (I use stalks of lemongrass when I can’t find the tall, thin leaves), and the spice mix, along with water, in a pot. As soon as the chicken is tender, I finish it with lime leaves and season with Nigerian dry pepper (you can use cayenne if you have it) and salt.

You can play around with the proteins. If you’re using tender chicken (broilers), fish, or prawns and other seafood that take less time to cook, I recommend cooking the soup low and slow and also adding bones or shells to the pot to develop and concentrate the flavor. For seafood versions, I like to use prawn or shrimp stock instead of water. Once the flavor has developed, I strain out the bones or shells, add the seafood, and simmer until cooked. 

At home, I love serving pepper soup with lightly salted boiled yam, just-ripe plantains, and lashings of thick, unrefined red palm oil―I highly recommend you do the same.

Recipe Facts

Prep:15 mins

Cook:75 mins

Total:90 mins

Makes:4 to 6 servings


Save Recipe

  • For the Spice Mix (See Note):
  • 8 urheri pods (grains of Selim), seeded
  • 6 erhe seeds (calabash nutmeg), shelled
  • 2 gbafilo seeds, shelled and roughly chopped
  • 2 umilo seeds, shelled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon alligator pepper (grains of paradise)
  • 1/2 teaspoon uziza seeds
  • For the Pepper Soup:
  • 1 small chicken (about 2 pounds; 905g), cut into 2-inch pieces (see note)
  • 2 quarts (1.9L) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons ground crayfish (see note) 
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more to taste; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nigerian red dry pepper or cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
  • 6 fresh lemongrass leaves, divided (see note)
  • 1 large (or 2 small) fresh makrut lime leaves
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh scent leaf, finely chopped, for garnish (see note)
  • Boiled yam, plantain, white sweet potatoes, or cooked white rice, for serving
  • Unrefined West African red palm oil, for serving


  1. For the Spice Mix: In a small stainless-steel or cast iron skillet, combine urheri, erhe, gbafilo, umilo, alligator pepper, and uziza. Over medium-low heat, toast spices, stirring and swirling frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Transfer spices to a spice grinder and grind until a crumbly, coarse powder forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Empty into a small bowl; set aside. Nigerian spices transfered from a cast-iron skillet to a spice grinder.
  2. For the Pepper Soup: In a large stockpot, combine chicken, water, ground crayfish, salt, cayenne pepper, half of the lemongrass, and prepared spice mix. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and tender, but not falling off the bone, about 45 minutes (the time may vary depending on how the meat was cut).Chicken, water, ground crayfish, salt, cayenne pepper, lemongrass and spice mixture in a stockpot.
  3. Add lime leaves and remaining lemongrass. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Let stand to allow flavors to develop, about 10 minutes.Lemongrass and lime leaves added to a stockpot full of broth.
  4. To serve, divide chicken between warmed soup bowls. Ladle broth on top, garnish with scent leaf, and serve with or alongside boiled yams, plantains, white sweet potatoes, or rice, and a small bowl of palm oil for dipping.Nigerian pepper soup served with white rice.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The spice mix can be stored in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 6 months. Store away from light and heat. 

Pepper soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 2 months.


I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken for its richer flavor. Cutting the chicken into bite-size pieces through the bone requires a heavy-duty cleaver. If you are unable to cut up the chicken yourself and you can’t find a butcher to do it for you, substitute with 1 1/2 pounds (680g) boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces, and 1/2 pound (225g) chicken wings, separated into drumettes and flats.

You can substitute ground crayfish with an equal volume of dried prawns or shrimp, which are available in Chinese or Asian markets. 

This recipe is ideally made with the leaves of the lemongrass plant, which are more flavorful and aromatic than lemongrass stalks. If you can’t find them, substitute with 2 stalks of lemongrass. To prepare, discard the outer layer, smash the stalk under the flat side of a knife, and cut crosswise into 3 equal lengths. 


I’m a big fan of goat meat, and I use it in a number of my recipes. One of my favorites is goat meat pepper soup. It’s hearty, spicy, and delicious.

Almost every culture on earth has its soup recipe and Africa is not an exception. In fact, soups and stews are a significant component of the African cuisine, and we have a whole lot of it apart from this pepper soup recipe like Turkey Stew, Ayamase stew, Stewed Spinach (Efo riro), Egusi Soup, Banga Soup, chicken pepper soup and much more.

Nigerian pepper soup


The African Pepper soup is primarily liquid, usually served hot and this is made by boiling Meat or Fish of choice in order to extract flavor from them. The broth from this Meat is then further seasoned with authentic African spices. It can be served with boiled Potatoes, Rice, Bread or just eat ”as is”.

Watch how to make the African Peppersoup here:

This pepper soup is suitable for all seasons of the year, and it will also add a little more zing to your day if you are not feeling so well but not to worry if you don’t want it hot, feel free to reduce the quantity of Habanero peppers and the chili pepper.

Nigerian Goat Meat Pepper Soup
African Goat Meat Pepper Soup


  1. You can substitute dry ginger powder for fresh ginger if you choose.
  2. The amount of peppers you add to the pepper soup depends on your heat tolerance so feel free to increase or reduce the quantity of peppers you use.
  3. You can substitute Uziza leaves or bitter leaves with Parsley, mint leaves, or scent leaves; Be sure to wash bitter leaves and drain them when used.
  4. I have used Goat Meat in this recipe. However, you can also Chicken, Lamb, Beef, or Fish.
  5. I like to cut the goat meat into cutlets because it cooks faster. You can also easily pick it up with a spoon and eat it right away. If You are comfortable with chunky meat in your pepper soup please go with it but it might need to cook for a longer time.
  6. To avoid chunks of Onions in your pepper soup, it’s a good idea to either mince the Onion or use the smaller hole on the grater to grate the Onion. I like to use the latter in my pepper soup.

Nigerian Pepper Soup

Many times, people enjoy African pepper soup for its sweetness and its zesty outburst of flavors, without having half the knowledge about its numerous medicinal benefits derived from the spices, but with the full knowledge of the magical curativeness immersed in every simmer of the pepper soup, it could make for one of the best African dishes ever and possibly the most sought after.

Many times, people enjoy pepper soup for its sweetness and its zesty outburst of flavors, without having half the knowledge about its numerous medicinal benefits derived from the spices, but with the full knowledge of the magical curativeness immersed in every simmer of the pepper soup, it could make for one of the best African dishes ever and possibly the most sought after.

Nigerian Pepper Soup

Many times, people enjoy pepper soup for its sweetness and its zesty outburst of flavors, without having half the knowledge about its numerous medicinal benefits derived from the spices, but with the full knowledge of the magical curativeness immersed in every simmer of the pepper soup, it could make for one of the best African dishes ever and possibly the most sought after.

  • 2 pounds chicken / catfish / cow leg / offal
  • 4 seeds Calabash nutmeg (Ehiri/Ehuru) (ground)
  • 3 cubes Maggi seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tablespoons Scent leaves (dry uziza leaves)
  • Red chili pepper / habanero pepper (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 gallon water (approximately)
  1. Wash and prepare chicken, goat meat, offal or cow leg.
  2. On medium-high heat, place meat into the pot and add water to reach the level of the contents of the pot.
  3. Add Maggi cubes, garlic, onions, and ground spices.
  4. Add chili or habanero peppers and salt to taste.
  5. Cook on medium-high heat till meat is tender and cooked through.
  6. Add scent leaves for a sweet aroma and flavouring. Cook for two minutes, and the peppersoup is ready.

Nigerian Pepper Soup is best served hot with agidi or white rice or boiled yam, whichever you prefer.

The variety of meat comes with its own texture and some may require more heat or cooking time than the others, for instance when cooking chicken you likely have no worries unlike when cooking with offals. The offal comprises of liver, intestine, shaki and other parts and they do not all have the same toughness as the shaki so it is advisable to boil the shaki separately to soften properly before adding to the rest. It is advisable to cook the cow leg with a pressure cooker as this will save you time and gas or electricity and soften it quicker. When cooking with catfish, it is advisable to grab the pot by the handle and shake gently from side to side so all the contents and ingredients in the pot will mix together instead of using a stirring spoon, in order to avoid breaking the fish into pieces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

TheSuperHealthyFood © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.