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Six popular soups you can cook without tomatoes

Nigerians are known for their love of stew, with tomatoes being a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes.

However, due to the recent surge in tomato prices occasioned by pest attack, many are looking for alternative sauces to accompany their meals.

Here are six economical and locally sourced stew options that don’t rely on tomatoes:

  1. Banga Stew: Known as Ofe Akwu, Banga Stew is a palm nut stew native to the Igbo. Although extracting palm oil juice from palm nuts can be time-consuming, the resulting dish is deliciously rewarding. Ingredients needed are palm fruits or palm fruit concentrate, beef, dry fish, vegetables (scent leaves for Ofe Akwu or dried, crushed bitter leaves for Delta-style Banga soup), onions, crayfish, stock cubes, iru, salt, and chilli pepper to taste.
  2. Ofada Stew: Commonly called Ayamase, ofada stew is typically served with ofada rice, a special local variety. However, it can also accompany regular white rice, yam, plantain, and even spaghetti. The simple ingredient list includes unripe habanero peppers, green tatashe or green bell peppers, locust bean seasoning (iru, ogiri okpei, or dawadawa), red palm oil, onions, crayfish, assorted meat, and fish.
  3. Baobab Leaf Stew: A northern Nigerian delicacy, Miyan Kuka, or Baobab Leaf Stew, is a favourite among the Hausa tribe and is usually served with white rice. Key ingredients are beef, onions, dried fish, hot peppers (washed, soaked, and flaked), pounded kuka (baobab) leaves, dawadawa (fermented dried seeds of the African locust bean), yaji (suya seasoning), a pinch of potash, palm oil, seasoning cubes, and salt to taste.
  4. Garden Egg Sauce: A popular delicacy in southern Nigeria, Garden Egg Sauce serves as an excellent substitute for tomato stew. Essential ingredients include garden eggs (purple aubergine, white, or green), palm oil, smoked fish, ground pepper (chilli or scotch bonnet), rinsed iru, onions, crayfish, and salt to taste. This versatile sauce pairs well with rice, yam, or plantain.
  5. Bitter Leaf Stew (Ofe Onugbu) – a bitter leaf soup made with bitter leaves, onions, garlic, and optional meat or chicken.
  6. Pumpkin Leaf Sauce: Known locally as Ugu, pumpkin leaves are widely used in Nigeria. Pumpkin Leaf Sauce is not only flavorful but also healthy, consisting of a sauté of fluted pumpkin leaves and onions. Quick to prepare, this sauce requires chopped pumpkin leaves, seasoned beef or chicken (optional), meat stock, vegetable oil, chilli pepper, onions, seasoning, and salt to taste.

These sauces offer a delicious and affordable alternative to tomato-based stews and can be enjoyed with a variety of staple foods like rice, yam, plantain, and more.

They also showcase the diversity and richness of Nigerian cuisine and highlight the abundance of local ingredients available in the country.

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