Nsala Soup: All You Need to Know About White Soup

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Nsala soup, or white soup, is a delicious and nutritious soup famous in Nigeria, especially among the Igbo, Efik, and Ijaw ethnic groups. It is a soup made without palm oil, unlike most other Nigerian soups, and it has a unique flavour and aroma that comes from the spices and herbs used in its preparation. Nsala soup is usually served with pounded yam, but it can also be eaten with other types of fufu or swallow.

This article will explore everything you need to know about Nsala soup, including its history, origin, nutritional value, health benefits, ingredients, preparation, enjoyment, side effects, and some frequently asked questions.

Nsala Soup: All You Need to Know About White Soup

What is Nsala Soup?

Nsala soup is a traditional dish comprising catfish, yam, utazi leaves, uziza seeds, crayfish, ogiri okpei (a fermented locust bean seasoning), pepper, salt, and Yam. It is commonly known as white soup due to its white or creamy appearance. The Igbo people refer to it as Ofe Nsala, while the Efik people call it Afia Efere.

The soup has a thick and smooth consistency from the yam that is pounded and added as a thickener. The soup also has a spicy and savoury taste from the pepper, crayfish, ogiri okpei, and uziza seeds. The soup is usually cooked with fresh catfish, which gives it a unique flavour and texture.  However, some individuals may choose to use different kinds of fish or meat instead of catfish.

History and Origin of Nsala Soup (White Soup)

The history and origin of Nsala soup are partially clear, but it is believed to have originated from the Igbo people in southeastern Nigeria. Originally, it was prepared as a special meal for new mothers to help them recover from childbirth and increase their milk production. 

Also, it was given to sick people who had difficulty eating solid foods or had lost their appetite. The soup was highly regarded for its nourishing and healing properties. 

Over time, other ethnic groups in Nigeria, such as the Efik and Ijaw people from the south-south region, adopted the soup. It became famous for festivals like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and ceremonies. The soup is often served with pounded yam as a symbol of hospitality and respect for guests.

Nutritional Value of Nsala (White) Soup

Nsala soup is a highly nutritious soup that provides many essential nutrients for the body. According to a source, one serving of Nsala soup made with catfish contains approximately:

  • Carbs: 6.3 g
  • Fat: 2.3 g
  • Protein: 9.2 g
  • Sodium: 186.9 mg
  • Potassium: 88.3 mg
  • Calcium: 290%
  • Iron: 1.5%
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The soup is rich in protein, which helps to build and repair muscles, tissues, and organs. It also contains healthy fats, which help to lower cholesterol levels, improve brain function, and support hormone production. The soup also provides carbohydrates, which are the body’s main energy source. The soup also contains fibre, which helps to regulate digestion, prevent constipation, and lower blood sugar levels. The soup also provides calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C, essential for bone health, blood formation, vision, and immunity.

Health Benefits of Nsala Soup

Did you know that white soup has many health benefits that can improve your overall well-being and quality of life? Here are some of the ways that Ofe Nsala can benefit your health: 

  • Boosts immunity: Nsala soup contains vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help fight off infections and diseases. Additionally, the utazi leaves in the soup have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent and treat illnesses such as malaria, typhoid, diarrhoea, and respiratory problems. 
  • Aids digestion: The soup contains yam, an excellent fibre source. Fibre can help promote bowel movements and prevent constipation. It can also prevent bloating, gas, and stomach ulcers. Yam also contains potassium, which can help balance the acid-base level in the stomach and avoid acid reflux. 
  • Improves skin health: The soup contains vitamin A, essential for skin health. Vitamin A can help maintain the integrity of skin cells and prevent dryness, wrinkles, and acne. It can also help heal wounds and scars faster. Vitamin A also protects the skin from sun damage and infections. 
  • Enhances brain function: White soup contains omega-3 fatty acids found in catfish, which benefit brain health and function. Omega-3 fatty acids can help improve memory, concentration, mood, and learning abilities. They can also help prevent depression, anxiety, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Supports weight loss: Nsala soup is a low-calorie soup that can help you lose weight. The soup is filling and satisfying, which can help you reduce your appetite and calorie intake. It also contains protein and fibre, which can help you burn fat and build muscle. The soup also has pepper, which can boost metabolism and increase energy.

What is Nsala Soup Made of?

Nsala Soup: All You Need to Know About White Soup

Nsala soup is made of the following ingredients:

  • Catfish
  • Yam
  • Utazi leaves
  • Uziza seed
  • Crayfish.
  • Ogiri okpei
  • Pepper.
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Seasoning cubes (Maggi)

How to Cook/Prepare Nsala Soup

To cook or prepare White soup (Ofe Nsala), follow the steps below:

  1. Wash and peel the yam. Cut into small pieces and boil in water until soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. Wash and gut the catfish. Cut into medium-sized pieces, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Wash and chop the utazi leaves, then set aside.
  4. Roast the uziza seeds in a dry pan until fragrant. Grind them into a fine powder with a mortar, pestle, or blender and keep it aside.
  5. Blend the crayfish and ogiri okpei into a smooth paste with water. Set aside.
  6. Add water to a pot, add the catfish pieces and cook for about 15 minutes or until done.
  7. Remove the catfish pieces from the pot and set aside. Reserve the fish stock in the pot.
  8. Mash the cooked yam with a wooden spoon until smooth in a small pot. Add some water if needed to make a thick paste.
  9. Add the yam paste to the fish stock in the large pot and stir well to dissolve. Boil for a few minutes and simmer for about 10 minutes or until it is thick.
  10. Add the crayfish and ogiri okpei paste, uziza seed powder, pepper, salt, and utazi leaves to the soup and stir well to combine. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until well incorporated.
  11. Add the catfish pieces back to the soup and gently stir to mix well with the soup.
  12. Turn off the heat and serve hot with pounded yam or any other swallow you choose.
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Nsala Soup: All You Need to Know About White Soup

How to Enjoy/Eat Nsala Soup

Ofe Nsala is enjoyed when it is hot and fresh. You can eat it with pounded yam or any other fufu or swallow it if you like. Some popular options are:

  • Eba
  • Amala
  • Semolina
  • Wheat

You can enjoy the soup with any other swallow food of your choice.

Side Effects of Nsala Soup

Ofe Nsala is generally safe and healthy to eat for most people. However, some people may experience side effects from eating Ofe Nsala due to some of its ingredients or personal conditions. Some of the possible side effects are:

  • Allergic reactions: Some may be allergic to catfish, crayfish or other ingredients in Ofe Nsala. This can cause symptoms such as itching, swelling, rashes, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or difficulty breathing. If you have a known allergy to any ingredients in Ofe Nsala, you should avoid eating it or seek medical attention if you experience any allergic reactions.
  • High blood pressure: Some people may have high blood pressure or hypertension due to various factors such as genetics, lifestyle, or medication. Overeating salt or sodium can worsen this condition and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, or kidney failure. If you have high blood pressure or are on a low-sodium diet, limit your intake of Ofe Nsala or use less salt or seasoning in preparation.
  • Stomach upset: Some people may have sensitive stomach or digestive issues such as ulcers, gastritis, or irritable bowel syndrome. Overeating pepper or spices can irritate the stomach lining and cause symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, or abdominal pain. If you have a sensitive stomach or digestive issues, eat Ofe Nsala in moderation or reduce the amount of pepper or spices in its preparation.
  • Weight gain: Some people may be trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight for various reasons, such as health, fitness, or appearance. Overeating Ofe Nsala or Fufu can add extra calories and carbohydrates to your diet and lead to weight gain or obesity. If you are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight, eat Ofe Nsala in moderation or choose a low-calorie fufu option such as wheat or semolina.
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Which State Has Nsala Soup? 

Nsala soup is not exclusive to any state in Nigeria. However, it is more popular in Nigeria’s southeastern and south-south regions, especially among the Igbo, Efik, and Ijaw ethnic groups.

Nsala Soup Tribe 

The tribe that is most associated with Ofe Nsala is the Igbo tribe of southeastern Nigeria. They are the ones who originated the soup and gave it its name.

Nsala Soup Shelf Life

Ofe Nsala can last up to 5 days or more in a fridge or freezer if stored properly in an airtight container. However, eating it as soon as possible is advisable to enjoy its freshness and flavour.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ofe Nsala White Soup? 

Yes, Ofe Nsala is another name for white soup. Ofe means soup, and together, Ofe Nsala means white soup.

What Do We Call Nsala in English? 

There is no direct translation for Nsala in English. However, some people may call it white soup because of its colour. So, Ofe Nsala is called White Soup in English.

What Can I Use to Thicken My Nsala Soup? 

The traditional thickener for Nsala soup is yam. However, some people may use other thickeners such as cocoyam, potato, plantain, or corn starch.

What Are the Spices in Nsala Soup? 

The main spices in white soup are yam, uziza seeds or utazi leaves, crayfish, and ogiri okpei. They give the soup its spicy and savoury taste.

Can a Pregnant Woman Eat Nsala Soup? 

Yes, a pregnant woman can eat Ofe Nsala as long as she is not allergic to any ingredients and has no medical conditions that may be affected by the soup. The soup can provide protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin C for the mother and the baby.


Have you tried Ofe Nsala before? It’s a popular soup in Nigeria that’s both delicious and nutritious! This mouth-watering dish consists of catfish, yam, utazi leaves, uziza seeds, crayfish, ogiri okpei, pepper, salt, and water. It has a thick and smooth look or texture with a white or creamy colour. The taste is spicy and savoury, with a unique flavour and aroma that will leave you wanting more. Nsala soup is one of the famous food of the Igbo’s.

Ofe Nsala is typically served with pounded yam or other fufu or swallow. Not only does it taste great, but it also has numerous health benefits. It can boost immunity, aid digestion, improve skin health, enhance brain function, and support weight loss. However, it’s important to note that it may have side effects such as allergic reactions, high blood pressure, stomach upset, and weight gain. 

For the best experience, make sure you eat Ofe Nsala when it’s hot and fresh. Trust us, and you won’t regret trying this delicious and nutritious soup!