Editan Soup: All You Need to Know About Lasianthera Africana

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If you’re familiar with the Efik and Ibibio people of Cross River and Akwa Ibom State, you’ll know that they have the best variety of soups in Nigeria. If you haven’t tasted or heard about Editan soup, the soup may sound mysterious, but it’s worth knowing that the soup is exotic and delicious. This soup is made from the edible leaves of the African bush plant Lasianthera africana, which has a long history and tradition behind it.

Known for its slightly bitter taste and robust texture, Editan soup is a staple yet exotic soup among the people of Cross River and Akwa Ibom in southern Nigeria. Rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients, Editan soup has served as both sustenance and natural medicine for centuries. As it grows in popularity across Nigeria and beyond, this soup offers a healthy, satisfying meal that provides a tantalising taste of West African culture. 

In this article, we will explore the origins, ingredients, preparation, and health benefits of Editan soup and provide some tips for how to enjoy this nutritional soup. Whether you’re on a food adventure, new to the Efik or Ibibio cuisine, or just trying out something new, Editan Soup will get you hooked.

Let’s begin!

Editan Soup: All You Need to Know About Lasianthera Africana

What is Editan Soup?

Editan soup is a vegetable soup that originated from the Efik and Ibibio people of South-south Nigeria, particularly in Cross River and Akwa-Ibom State. It is one of the many vegetable soups made in this region, such as Afang soup and Edikang Ikong soup. However, Editan soup has a richer and more complex flavour than both soups because of the use of Lasianthera africana leaf, also known as Editan leaf.

Editan leaf is a perennial and glabrous shrub that belongs to the family Icacinaceae. It is called Atama in Igbo, Editan in Efik, and Ibibio. The leaf is naturally bitter and slimy, so it needs to be processed before use. 

The leaf is usually cooked with waterleaf or any other leafy vegetable of your choice, which helps to reduce the bitterness and sliminess. The soup also contains other ingredients such as meat, snails, periwinkles, stockfish, dry fish, crayfish, palm oil, pepper, and seasoning cubes.

History and Origin of Editan Soup

Editan Soup: All You Need to Know About Lasianthera Africana

Editan soup is a traditional dish that has been passed down from generation to generation among the Efik and Ibibio people. The Efik and Ibibio are ethnic groups that inhabit the coastal areas of southeastern Nigeria. They share a common language, culture, and cuisine. They are known for their rich and diverse dishes that use various types of vegetables, seafood, meat, and spices.

The origin of Editan soup can be traced back to the pre-colonial era, when the Efik and Ibibio people had contact with other cultures, such as the Portuguese, British, French, Spanish, and Dutch. These contacts influenced their culinary practises and introduced new ingredients and techniques. 

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The name Editan comes from the Efik word for bitter, which reflects the taste of the leaf. The leaf was used as medicine by people to treat various ailments such as malaria, fever, stomach aches, ulcers, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The soup can be prepared as a special dish for ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, festivals, and rituals.

Nutritional Value of Lasianthera Africana (Editan)

Lasianthera africana (Editan) is a highly nutritious plant that contains various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibre. The nutritional value of 100 grammes of Editan leaf contains

  1. Energy: 248.64Kj
  2. Calories: 59.347Kcal
  3. Fat: 1.627g
  4. Protein: 4.627g
  5. Carb: 5g
  6. Fiber: 3.1g
  7. Water:80.517g
  8. Calcium: 185.735mg
  9. Iron: 7.3mg
  10. Magnesium: 42.515mg
  11. Phosphorus: 41.33mg
  12. Potassium: 221.6mg
  13. Sodium: 140.035mg
  14. Zinc: 5.4mg
  15. Copper: 3.23mg
  16. Manganese: 2.23mg
  17. Vitamin A, RAE: μg
  18. Retinol:μg
  19. Carotene, beta:646.4μg
  20. Vitamin D: μg
  21. Thiamin, B1: mg
  22. Riboflavin, B2: mg
  23. Niacin, B3: mg
  24. Vitamin B6: mg
  25. Folate, B9: μg
  26. Vitamin B12: μg
  27. Vitamin C: 35.19mg
  28. Ash: 2.13g

The leaf also contains other compounds such as alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tannins, phenols, and terpenoids. These compounds have various biological activities such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, anti-ulcer, anti-malarial, anti-hypertensive, and anti-oxidant.

Benefits of Editan Soup

Editan soup is not only tasty but also beneficial to your health. Some of the benefits of Editan are:

  • Editan soup is rich in vitamin C, essential for producing and functioning white blood cells that fight infections and diseases. Vitamin C also helps to protect your cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
  • The soup is high in fibre, which helps regulate your bowel movements and prevent constipation. Fibre also helps to lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of fats and sugars in your intestines.
  • It contains vitamin A, which is vital for the maintenance and function of your eyesight. Vitamin A helps to prevent night blindness, dry eyes, and eye infections.
  • It is high in calcium, the main mineral component of your bones and teeth. Calcium helps to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes your bones to become weak and brittle.
  • The soup contains iron, a key element of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in your blood. Iron helps prevent anaemia, a condition that causes fatigue, weakness, and pale skin due to low oxygen levels in your blood.

What is Editan Soup Made of?

Editan Soup: All You Need to Know About Lasianthera Africana

Editan soup is made from vegetables, meat, seafood, and spices. The other vegetable used is waterleaf, which helps to balance the bitterness and sliminess of Editan leaf.

The meat can be any type, such as beef, goat, chicken, or turkey. The seafood can be any type, such as snails, periwinkles, shrimp, crabs, or fish. The spices used are crayfish, pepper, seasoning cubes, salt, and palm oil.

The typical Editan soup ingredients are:

  • Editan leaf
  • Waterleaf
  • Meat (beef, goat, chicken, or turkey)
  • Snails (optional)
  • Ponmo (cow skin)
  • Stockfish head (washed)
  • Dry fish (washed)
  • Periwinkles
  • Crayfish
  • Palm oil
  • Fresh pepper (to taste)
  • Seasoning cubes (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)

How to Cook Editan Soup

Editan is easy to cook once you have prepared the ingredients. Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to cook the soup:

  1. Wash and season the meat with salt and seasoning cube. Add chopped onions and a little water, and cook until soft.
  2. Wash and season the snails with salt and one seasoning cube. Add a little water and cook until they are soft.
  3. Wash the ponmo, stockfish head, and dry fish and add them to the meat in the pot. Add more water if needed, and cook until they are soft.
  4. Wash the periwinkles and set aside.
  5. Wash the waterleaf, cut or shred it, and set it aside.
  6. Heat the palm oil in a large pot and add the ground crayfish, pepper, salt, and two seasoning cubes. Stir well and fry for about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the cooked meat, snails, ponmo, stockfish head, dry fish, and periwinkles to the palm oil mixture. Stir well and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  8. Add the pounded or grounded Editan leaf and stir well. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  9. Add the shredded waterleaf and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes until the soup is thick and well combined.
  10. Adjust the seasoning to your taste and turn off the heat.
  11. Serve Editan with any swallow of your choice.
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How to Enjoy/Eat Editan Soup

Editan soup is a delicious and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. Some of the ways to enjoy Editan soup are:

  • Fufu
  • Eba
  • Pounded yam
  • Semolina

The list is endless; you can eat or enjoy Editan soup with any food you choose. Be rest assured that you’ll have the satisfaction you’re craving, and your taste buds will be pleased.

How to Get the Bitterness Out of Editan Soup

Editan leaf is naturally bitter and slimy, so it needs to be processed before use. There are different methods to get the bitterness out of Editan leaf. 

One method is to soak the pounded or ground Editan leaf in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Then drain the leaf through a chiffon cloth and squeeze well to remove as much water as possible. Rinse the leaf in cold water and squeeze well again.

Another method is to boil the pounded or ground Editan leaf in water with potash for about 5 minutes. Then drain the leaf and rinse well with cold water.

Side Effects of Editan Soup

Editan soup is generally safe and healthy to eat, but it may have some side effects for some people. Some of the side effects of eating the soup are:

  • Some people may be allergic to some of the ingredients in Editan soup, such as Editan leaf, waterleaf, crayfish, or periwinkles. Allergic reactions may include itching, swelling, rashes, hives, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating Editan soup, seek medical attention immediately.
  • You may experience stomach upset after eating Editan soup, especially if you are not used to its bitter taste or slimy texture. Stomach upset may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or cramps. If you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to avoid eating too much Editan.
  • Some of the compounds in Editan leaf may interact with some medications that you may be taking, such as anticoagulants, anti-diabetics, anti-hypertensives, or antimalarials. These interactions may affect the effectiveness or safety of your medications. If you are on any medication, consult your doctor before eating Editan soup..

Editan Soup and Pregnant Woman

Editan is a nutritious soup that can benefit pregnant women by providing them with essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, protein, and healthy fats. These nutrients can help to support the growth and development of the baby and the health of the mother.

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However, pregnant women should also be careful when eating Editan soup because of some of its potential risks. Some of these risks and side effects are:

  • The bitterness of Editan leaf may cause nausea or vomiting in pregnant women who already suffer from morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. This may lead to dehydration or malnutrition for both the mother and the baby.
  • The ingredients in Editan soup may be contaminated with bacteria, parasites, fungi, or toxins that can cause food poisoning or infections in pregnant women and their babies. These infections may lead to miscarriage, preterm labour, stillbirth, or congenital disabilities.
  • The ingredients in Editan soup may cause allergic reactions in pregnant women or their babies who are sensitive to them. These allergic reactions may lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that affects the breathing and circulation of both the mother and the baby.

Therefore, pregnant women should eat Editan soup with caution and moderation. They should also ensure that the ingredients are fresh, clean, and well-cooked. They should also consult their doctor before eating Editan soup if they have any medical conditions or allergies.

Editan Soup Tribe

Editan soup is a dish that belongs to the Efik and Ibibio tribes of Nigeria. The Efik and Ibibio are ethnic groups that live in the coastal areas of southeastern Nigeria, especially in the states of Cross River and Akwa Ibom. They share a common language, culture, and cuisine. They are known for their hospitality, creativity, and artistry.

The Efik and Ibibio have a rich history and culture that dates back centuries. They have a strong sense of identity and pride in their heritage. They have contributed to the development and diversity of Nigeria through their political, social, economic, and religious activities. They have also influenced other cultures through their music, dance, literature, fashion, and cuisine.

Editan soup is one of the dishes that showcases the culinary skills and traditions of the Efik and Ibibio people. It is a dish that reflects their taste, preference, and availability of ingredients. It is a dish that celebrates their culture, history, and identity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Editan Leaf in English?

Editan leaf is the Efik/Ibibio name for Lasianthera africana leaf, which is the main ingredient in Editan soup.

What Is Another Name for Editan Leaf?

Editan leaf can also be called Lasianthera africana  It is also called Nkanka in Igbo.

Is Editan Leaf Bitter?

Yes, Editan leaf is naturally bitter and slimy. This is why it needs to be processed before use by soaking or boiling it with water or potash to reduce its bitterness and sliminess.

How Long Does Editan Soup Last?

Editan soup can last for up to 3 days if stored properly in the refrigerator or freezer. However, it is advisable to consume it as soon as possible to avoid spoilage or contamination.

Can I Use Spinach Instead of Waterleaf in Editan Soup?

Yes, you can use spinach instead of waterleaf in Editan soup if you cannot find waterleaf. Spinach has a similar texture and flavour to waterleaf and can help to balance the bitterness and sliminess of Editan leaf. However, you may need to use more spinach than waterleaf because spinach shrinks more when cooked.


Editan soup is a vegetable soup that is made from Lasianthera africana (Editan) leaf and other ingredients such as meat, seafood, spices, and palm oil. It is a dish that originates from the Efik and Ibibio people of southeastern Nigeria. 

Editan is highly nutritious, delicious, and satisfying. This dish has many benefits and some risks to your health. It can be enjoyed with any swallow food of your choice. The soup is one of the famous foods in Nigeria.

If you want to try something new and exciting in Calabar or Akwa-Ibom State, you should give Editan soup a try. You will not regret it.