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Pepper Soup

Pepper soup is a common West African drinking soup. Similar to Creole gumbo, pepper soup is one of the most popular dishes in Nigeria. Pepper soup is a common preparation in Nigerian-American restaurants and homes, as well, particularly in the urban areas of New York City and Houston, Texas. The soup is traditionally eaten with the help of a starch base, often made from pounded yam, that is used as a scoop for individual bites. Pepper soup comes in a wide range of varieties, including meats like chicken, beef, or goat. Eastern Nigerian pepper soups tend to be less intensely spicy, while Western Nigerian-style preparations can be extremely hot.

Recipe Servings: 5

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Total Time
55 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free


Spice Mix:
  • 2 lbs of chicken or goat meat on the bone, cut into pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp spice mix (recipe below)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp ground crayfish or ground dried shrimp, optional


    For Spice Mix:
  1. In a hot, dry pan, toast the coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, and black peppercorns until fragrant.
  2. Use a spice grinder to grind the whole spices. Combine all the spices and mix.
  3. Set aside 3 tablespoons spice mix to use in the pepper soup, and store the remainder to use when needed.
  4. For Soup:
  5. In a large pot, heat the chopped meat with 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon spice mix, bouillon cubes, lemongrass, ground crayfish or shrimp, and a dash of salt and chili powder.
  6. When the soup is boiling, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons spice mix and the water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for about 1½ hours, until the meat is tender but not falling apart.
  7. Remove the lemongrass stalk before serving.


If desired, serve the soup over boiled yams. Pepper soup also may be made with any firm white fish or with beef; adjust cooking times for different cuts of meat or fish.

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