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FEATURE: “Ewedu’’ soup: Gaining recognition beyond borders as nourishing diet

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“Ewedu’’ soup: Gaining recognition beyond borders as nourishing diet

By Grace Yussuf, Nigeria News Agency

There is no any paid advertisement for the fame of a local restaurant run by a lady in Abuja, simply known as Iya Beji in Abuja, apart from well prepared “amala’’(yam powder mash) served with fresh  “ewedu’’ soup and “gbegiri’’ (beans soup) that attract deluge of people from every work of life, especially civil servants.

“Amala’’ eaten with “ewedu’’ and “gbegiri’’ soup, is believed to be popular among the Yoruba, however, the diet is gaining popularity beyond the ethnic group.

When “ewedu’’ soup is served with beans soup “gbegiri’’ and sandwiched with assorted meat parts — “orisirisi’’ — lovers of the combination say “ewedu and gbegiri’’ complement the eating of “amala’’ (yam powder mash).

Although “ewedu’’ soup alone is taken without “gbegiri’’ in some cases, it depends on the choice of individuals and the type of food they want to take.

Mrs Mopelola Ayodele, an indigene of Ibadan, south western part of Nigeria, says she grew up to know “ewedu’’ soup from her mother and she (Mopelola) usually prepares it to eat “amala’’, “eba’’ or any other solid food.

“It is our main soup for meals and we make it very well. In fact, we are the best and if you want to eat better ewedu soup and gbegiri soup with amala, come to Ibadan, you will not eat any other meal again,’’ she boasts.

“Ewedu’’ has, however, gained prominence beyond the south-western part of the country to the rest part of the country and abroad.

Jute leaf is called “ewedu’’ in Yoruba, “achingbara’’ in Igbo and “rama or ayoyo’’

Research shows that in Ghana, “ewedu’’ is called “ayoyo’’ eaten by the people in northern part of that country.

Similarly, in Sierra Leone it is known as “krain krain’’ and called “murere’’ in western Kenya.

It is not unusual to notice advertisements presenting “ewedu-gbegiri-amala’’ to the public as a bait for customers in big cities such as Lagos, Ibadan and even the Federal Capital Territory.

Further to this, “ewedu-gbegiri-amala’’ combination has become one of the top meals on the menu lists of many restaurants, including some big hotels, even across some Nigerian border cities.

“Ewedu’’ is one of the common African leafy vegetables cultivated in gardens that has been in existence and eaten by humans since the beginning of 6,000 BC, research has shown.

Apart from this, nutritionists and mothers describe “ewedu soup’’ as nutritious, presenting many health benefits.

They recommend “ewedu’’’ soup as a veritable vegetable that can fight off cancer because it contains Vitamins A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E that prevent tissue damage.

Medical experts note that “ewedu’’ soup is also beneficial in the fight against prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer.

They note that sufferers of dry scaly skin can make “ewedu’’ soup a part of their regular diet to help keep the skin soft, supple and smooth.

They also claim that Vitamin A and Vitamin E in “ewedu’’ leaf is known for its anti-ageing properties and can help to reduce the visibility of fine lines, age spots and wrinkles.

In their views, the aromatherapy from “ewedu’’ leaf is suitable for treating asthma and the content of anti-inflammatory substances in ewedu leaf can work to heal the inflammation of the lungs.

Mr Gbenga Jagun, a dietician-nutritionist, describes “ewedu soup as a pharmacy on your plate because of its numerous nutritional-health benefits.’’

According to him, the soup is a good source of vitamins and mineral elements such as calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin K and Folic acid.

He also says the soup is rich in both essential and non-essential amino acid such as lysine, antioxidants and photochemical that can prevent cancer and coronary diseases.

“It also contributes to the feeling of satiation and satisfaction associated with eating; preventing constipation due to the presence of fibre in it.

“It is ideal in cases of obesity which helps to maintain body weight because it has almost no fat and the calorie content is very low.

“It a good anti-anemic (prevents anaemia) due to high iron content and facilitates the production of red blood cells.

“It is an excellent and appropriate food for the elderly because of its calcifying action (supply calcium),’’ he explains.

Mrs Stella Ojo, a nurse with a Federal Government agency in Abuja, advises everyone to make “ewedu’’ part of daily diet because of its numerous health benefits.

“It is affordable for both rich and poor, the pregnant are also advised to steam it and drink it for at least once a day.

“You can give it to babies either with any soft food, rice or better still let them drink it with spoon,’’ she advises.

Ojo also observes that “ ewedu’’ soup can also be used to for interference in women during menstrual period.

“Premenstrual Syndrome is a symptom of a disturbance experienced by a woman that results in an emotional change and ewedu soup has been proven to be effective in that regard.

“In fact, women who have experienced menopause are also recommended to consume “ewedu’’ soup because this plant can increase estrogen substances in the body that will reduce hot flashes and other vaginal disorders,’’ she says.

The National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, has therefore, produced a practical guide on the production and harvesting of “ewedu’’, leveraging on its nutritional values.

NIHORT claims that “ewewu’’ grows well during the rainy season in the Savanna and Sahel vegetation zone.

According to the guide, it is cultivated where annual rainfall average is between 600 millimetre and 2000 millimetre with optimal temperature.

“Ewedu’’ Soup Recipe

Ingredients:
I Big Bunch of Ewedu Leaves
2 Cups of Water
1 Tablespoon locust beans (Iru)
1 Heaped tablespoon ground crayfish
1 cube of seasoning
Salt to taste

Preparation:
Pick Ewedu leaves, make sure you don’t pick the stalk/stem along with it.

Wash the leaves thoroughly to rid it of dirt. Pour the water into a medium size pan, place on a bob on medium heat, bring to a rolling boil.

Add the Ewedu leaves and boil for two minutes, then add the locust beans, continue to boil till tender, this should take roughly 8-10 minutes

If you’re using a short broom (Ijabe), use the broom to pound the leaves but if you’re using a blender, take the Ewedu off the heat and leave to cool for a bit…don’t switch the heat off.

Add the Ewedu into a blender along with the Iru, make sure you don’t add all the water, just half a cup should do. Too much water will affect the viscosity of your Ewedu.

Using the pulse function, pulse a few times until you get a semi-purée consistency, then transfer the Ewedu back into the pan, add the ground crayfish, cube and salt to taste.

Switch off the heat and let it simmer with the residual heat for three minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Do not overcook or the Ewedu will go brown.

“Gbegiri’’ soup recipe:
Ingredients:
2 Cups of black eyed or brown beans
3 Tablespoons palm oil
2 Tablespoons crayfish powder
1 Tablespoon locust beans (Iru)
1-2 Tablespoons ground dried pepper
1cube of seasoning
Salt to taste

Preparation:
Soak and peel your beans. You can peel it by hand or pulse in a jug blender.

Add the peeled beans into a pot, place on a hob on high heat. Add water and cook till very soft and mushy.

Be careful not to add too much water, you can start with two cups and add as you go, if necessary. Do not add salt.

Mash up the beans when soft. Save time and energy by blending till smooth in your jug blender.

If you’re using a blender, be sure to wait until the beans have cooled down a bit before blending so you don’t risk damaging your blender. Add water to the beans before blending, not too much though, say half a cup.

If you used a short broom to mash the beans, you’ll need to pass the paste through a sieve to remove clumps and get a really smooth consistency but if your blender is very powerful, you wouldn’t need to do this.

Now, return the paste back into the pot and on low heat this time around. You might need to add a bit of water to the paste.

The consistency should be semi- fluid. Add the palm oil, Iru, crayfish powder, cube for seasoning, ground pepper and salt to taste.

Be careful not to add too much palm oil, you only need a little to slightly alter the colour of the paste.

Cook for between five minutes and seven minutes, stir occasionally to prevent burning and it is ready when the gbegiri soup thickens a bit and the palm oil is well combined with the paste.

Caution: Gbegiri soup thickens up really quickly, so do not be alarmed if yours does thicken up. Just add a bit of water and reheat and you’re good to go.

Courtesy: (Recipe by Sisi Jemimah Adebiyi, a nutritionist)

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