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Afang Soup: All You Need to Know About Wild Spinach Soup

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Afang soup is a well-known, nutritious dish in Nigeria, particularly among the Efik and Ibibio people from the south-south region. It consists of two types of green leafy vegetables, afang leaves and water leaves, and a selection of meats, seafood, palm oil, and spices. This soup is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can enhance your health and overall well-being. 

This article covers everything you need to know about Afang soup, including its history, nutritional value, health benefits, ingredients, how to prepare and enjoy, potential side effects, and more. Let’s get started!

Afang Soup: All You Need to Know About Wild Spinach Soup

What is Afang Soup?

Water leaves (Talinum triangulare) and other ingredients include meat, fish, snails, clams, crayfish, palm oil, onion, pepper, salt, and seasonings. Afang leaves are also known as okazi or eru in other parts of Nigeria and Cameroon. They are wild edible plants that grow in the tropical forests of West and Central Africa.

Afang soup is a thick, slimy, dark green soup. It has a savoury and slightly spicy flavour because of the palm oil, crayfish, and other ingredients used in cooking the soup.

The soup is made with afang leaves (Gnetum africanum) and water leaves (Talinum triangulare) to give it a slimy texture. It is usually eaten with a starchy accompaniment such as pounded yam, fufu, garri, semolina, or amala.

History and Origin of Afang Soup

Afang soup is a traditional dish that originated from the Efik and Ibibio people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River states in Nigeria. These are coastal states that have access to fresh seafood and abundant vegetation. The Efik and Ibibio people are known for their culinary skills and use of various spices, vegetables, and ingredients in their dishes. Afang soup is one of their most famous dishes that showcases their rich culture and heritage.

The women of the Efik kingdom usually prepared the soup to welcome their husbands back from war or hunting expeditions. The soup is made with afang/Okazi leaves collected from the forest and water leaves grown on their farms. The soup is enriched with meat and seafood and served with pounded yam or fufu.

Afang soup soon became a staple dish among the Efik and Ibibio people and was also adopted by neighbouring ethnic groups such as the Annang, Ijaw, Igbo, Yoruba, etc. The soup is served during special occasions such as weddings, festivals, ceremonies, etc. Today, afang soup is enjoyed by many Nigerians from different regions and backgrounds. It is also popular in other African countries, such as Cameroon, etc.

Nutritional Value of Afang Soup

Afang soup is not only tasty but also nutritious. It contains various nutrients that are essential for your health. According to Nutritionix, one serving (about 300 g) of afang provides the following nutritional values:

  • Calories: 358 kcal
  • Protein: 28.9 g
  • Fat: 22.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.6 g
  • Fibre: 4.5 g
  • Sugar: 3.6 g
  • Calcium: 117 mg
  • Iron: 5.4 mg
  • Potassium: 762 mg
  • Vitamin A: 1010 mcg
  • Vitamin C: 31.8 mg
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The main nutrients that are found in afang are:

  • Protein: This helps your muscles and hair grow big and strong. The protein comes from the meat, fish, snails, and crayfish.
  • Fat: This gives you energy and keeps you warm. The fat comes from the palm oil.
  • Fibre helps your stomach digest food and go to the bathroom regularly. The fibre comes from the leaves.
  • Vitamins help you see, fight sickness, heal cuts, and grow. Vitamin A comes from palm oil, leaves, and crayfish. Vitamin C comes from the leaves, onions, and crayfish.
  • Minerals: These help your bones, blood, and nerves work properly. Calcium comes from the leaves, snails, and seasoning. Iron comes from the meat, fish, leaves, and seasoning.

So the soup has lots of healthy proteins, fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals for your body!

Health Benefits of Afang Soup

Afang soup has many health benefits due to its high nutritional value and phytochemical content. Some of the health benefits of afang soup are:

  • Boosts Your Immune System: Afang soup can increase your immune system by providing you with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and other antioxidants that can fight off infections and diseases. Vitamins A and C can enhance immune cells and antibodies, while iron can improve haemoglobin and oxygen delivery. Antioxidants can protect your cells from oxidative stress and inflammation that can weaken your immune system. Afang soup can also help you to prevent or recover from common colds, flu, malaria, typhoid, etc.
  • Improves Digestive Health: The soup can improve your digestive health by providing you with fibre, water, and probiotics that can promote your bowel movements, prevent constipation, and maintain your gut flora. Fibre can add bulk to your stool and stimulate intestinal muscles, while water can soften stool to avoid dehydration. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help you digest food, produce vitamins, and prevent infections. Afang soup can also help prevent or treat diarrhoea, dysentery, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
  • Supports Your Bone Health: Afang supports your bone health by providing calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium that can strengthen your bones, teeth, and nails. Calcium and vitamin D are the main minerals needed for bone formation and maintenance, while phosphorus and magnesium are crucial for bone metabolism and structure. Afang soup can also help you to prevent or manage osteoporosis, rickets, arthritis, etc.
  • Enhances Skin Health: it contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium that can nourish your skin, hair, and nails. Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants that can protect your skin from sun damage, ageing, and inflammation. Zinc and selenium are minerals that can help heal wounds, fight infections, and regulate your hormones. Afang soup can also help you to prevent or treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.
  • Promotes Weight Loss: Afang soup can boost your weight loss by providing protein, fibre, water, and low calories that can make you feel full for longer, reduce your appetite, increase your metabolism, and burn more fat. Protein can help you build and preserve your muscle mass, which is essential for weight loss. Fibre and water can help you to control your blood sugar levels and prevent cravings. 
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List of Ingredients for Afang Soup

To make afang soup, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Meat (beef, goat, chicken, etc.)
  • Seafood (fish, snails, clams, prawns, etc.)
  • Crayfish
  • Afang leaves (okazi, gbure or eru)
  • Water leaves
  • Palm oil
  • Onion (chopped)
  • Pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Seasoning cubes to taste
  • Water as needed

Leaves for Afang Soup

The leaves for afang soup are afang leaves and water leaves. These main ingredients give the soup its name and distinctive taste.

Afang leaves are also known as okazi or eru in other parts of Nigeria and Cameroon. They are wild edible plants that grow in the tropical forests of West and Central Africa. They have a tough texture and a slightly bitter taste. They are rich in protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and antioxidants.

Water leaves, or Gbure, are succulent plants that grow in moist areas. They have a soft texture and a mild taste. They are rich in water, fibre, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants.

 How to Cook/Prepare Afang Soup

To cook afang, follow this afang soup recipe below:

Step 1: Prepare the Meat and Stock

  • Wash the meat thoroughly and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Place the meat in a pot and add enough water to cover it.
  • Add some salt and seasoning cubes to taste.
  • Boil the meat, stockfish, and ponmo until they are tender.
  • Remove the meat from the stock and set aside.
  • Reserve the stock for later use.

Step 2: Pound the Afang Leaves

  • Wash the afang leaves thoroughly and drain well.
  • Use a mortar and pestle to pound the afang leaves until smooth.
  • Set the afang leaves aside.

Step 3: Fry the Onion and Palm Oil

  • Put a pot on the fire. Add a little bit of palm oil. When the oil is hot, put the chopped onion in the pan. 
  • Stir the onion around to mix it with oil. Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes until it gets soft and slightly brown. The onion will start to smell sweet when it cooks. Be careful not to burn the onion. Keep stirring it gently while it fries.

Step 4: Add the Meat, Seafood, and Seasonings

  • Add the cooked meat, seafood, crayfish, salt, and seasoning cubes to the pot and stir well to combine.
  • Add some of the reserved stock to the soup. You can also add more water if needed.
  • Cook the stock for about 15 minutes.

Step 5: Add the Water Leaves and Afang Leaves

  • Wash the water leaves thoroughly and chop them roughly.
  • Add the Afang/Okazi leaves to the pot and stir well to mix with the soup.
  • Simmer for about 5 minutes until the leaves are soft.
  • Add the water leaves to the pot and stir well to mix with the soup.
  • Simmer for another 5 minutes until both leaves combine well and become slimy.
  • Adjust the seasoning of the soup if needed.

Step 6: Serve the soup with Eba, fufu or pounded yam

How to Enjoy/Eat Afang Soup

Afang soup is usually eaten with swallow foods such as pounded yam, fufu, garri, semolina, or amala. You can also enjoy afang soup with chilled water, juice, soda, beer, or palm wine. These are drinks that can quench your thirst and complement your meal.

Side Effects of Afang Soup

Afang soup is safe and healthy to eat. However, some individuals may experience minor side effects such as :

  • Allergic reactions – few people may have allergies to ingredients like afang leaves, crayfish, or palm oil. Symptoms could include rashes, swelling, or breathing issues. Those with known food allergies should avoid afang soup or closely monitor their reaction. Seek medical care if you have a severe allergic response.
  • Stomach upset – Overeating the soup, especially if it’s very spicy or oily, may cause temporary nausea, diarrhoea, or cramps in some. If you’re prone to stomach issues, eat afang soup in moderation and reduce the quantity of pepper and oil you use. Consult a doctor if you have persisting digestion issues.
  • Weight gain – Frequently consuming too much of Afang and swallow may lead to excess calorie intake and weight gain over time. To maintain a healthy weight, practice portion control and choose lower-calorie swallow options made from plantain. 
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In all, afang can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

Afang Soup and Pregnancy

Afang can be a healthy and beneficial choice during pregnancy when eaten in moderation. It provides vital nutrients like iron, folate, calcium, and antioxidants to support maternal health and fetal development. These nutrients help prevent anaemia, boost immunity, promote skin health, and facilitate proper growth of the baby’s organs and tissues.

However, some pregnant women should exercise caution with afang soup:

  • If you’re allergic to ingredients like afang leaves or seafood, you should avoid the soup because some allergic reactions may affect you or your baby.
  • Overconsumption, especially of spicy or oily, may cause stomach upsets like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea in some women. Eat moderate portions and adjust spice and oil levels as needed.
  • Eating large portions could lead to excessive weight gain from high calories. Practice portion control and use lower-calorie side dishes to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.

Pregnant women can include afang soup as part of a balanced diet. However, moderation, attention to allergies, and proper portion sizes are crucial to maximizing its benefits and minimizing the side effects.

Afang Soup and Weight Loss

Afang soup can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It can provide you with protein, fibre, water, and low calories that can make you feel full for longer, reduce your appetite, increase your metabolism, and burn more fat. 

What Does Afang Soup Taste Like?

Afang has a unique yet complex taste and aroma. This is partly due to the several ingredients used in making the soup. The soup has a down-to-earth taste from the afang leaves, giving it a slightly bitter taste, which is then covered by the water leaf and other condiments and seasonings used to prepare the soup. 

Afang has a satisfying taste that can make you feel full and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Afang Soup Made Of? 

Afang soup is made of afang leaves (Gnetum africanum) and water leaves (Talinum triangulare), along with other ingredients such as meat, fish, snails, clams, prawns, crayfish, palm oil, onion, pepper, salt, and seasonings.

What Is the Name of Afang Soup in Igbo? 

The name of afang soup in Igbo is ukazi soup or okazi soup. Ukazi or okazi are the Igbo names for afang leaves.

What Do We Call Afang Leaves in English? 

The English name for afang leaves is wild spinach or African jointfir. They are also known as okazi or eru in other parts of Nigeria and Cameroon.

What Is the Difference Between Afang and Edikaikong? 

Afang and edikaikong are both types of Nigerian soups that are made with green leafy vegetables. However, they have some differences in their ingredients and preparation methods. Afang soup is made with afang leaves and water leaves, while edikaikong soup is made with ugu (pumpkin) and water leaves. 

Is Afang Leaf Bitter? 

Afang leaf has a slightly bitter taste that can be reduced by grinding or pounding before cooking. The bitterness can also be balanced by adding other ingredients such as water leaves, palm oil, crayfish, etc.

Conclusion

Afang soup is a delicious and nutritious soup famous in Nigeria, especially among the Efik and Ibibio people of the south-south region. It is made with two types of green leafy vegetables, afang leaves and water leaves, as well as assorted meat, seafood, palm oil, and spices. 

It has many health benefits, such as boosting your immune system, improving your digestive health, supporting your bone and skin health, and promoting weight loss. It is usually eaten with pounded yam, fufu, garri, semolina, or amala. It is a traditional dish that showcases the rich culture and heritage of the Efik and Ibibio people.