Making Nigerian Egusi Soup the Vegan Way!

Egusi is the West African name for melon seeds. When they've been dried and ground they make up the main ingredient in this namesake soup. I tasted it for the first time over 15 years ago, and was instantly addicted. Now that I don't eat meat, this vegan version of the Nigerian dish is my go-to. It's spicy and sweet, rich and earthy. Although it may sound exotic, it is really quite simple to make.

Nigerian Egusi Soup with Side of Fufu

Nigerian Egusi Soup is Healthy!

Nigerian Egusi Soup is very healthy! It's packed with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals making it dense with good nutrition. I tend to load my egusi with greens, doubling down on the fiber, folate, and antioxidants.

The Tricks for Making Vegan Egusi Soup

  • Be careful to use ONLY palm oils certified to be fair trade and "no habitat harmed". Red palm oil adds the authentic flavor needed for this dish. Unfortunately, improper sources can damage critical wild habitats. Read more about this important subject HERE. I give an Amazon link to a reputable red palm oil here.
  • Checking out local African markets can be a lot of fun. I encourage exploring if you live someplace that has one. Egusi seed can be found in most African and some Indian markets. If not available locally, try this brand.
  • I make this recipe with spinach, as it is easy to come by. Other greens like chard, collards, or bitter greens work equally as well. Almost any dark leafy green will work and the flavor differences can be interesting.
  • Play with the spice that works for you. For the spicier side, use scotch bonnet, habanero, or thai bird chiles. For the milder side, you can use red jalapeño or fresno peppers. Any chile pepper will work, so find the one that fits your tolerance. This dish is commonly spicy.
  • Once you add the egusi to the soup, stir only enough to mix it in. You don't want to overmix. As the egusi steams it will create curds. Overmixing will keep the curds from forming well.
  • Timid dinner guests? Try serving Egusi as a side for your favorite entree.

What Do You Eat With Egusi Soup?

Egusi soup is most commonly eaten with something called Fufu. Fufu is a type of swallow. Essentially, swallows are roots or grains that are pounded, dried, ground and then cooked to create a dough. That dough is then pinched off and used to scoop up stews in place of utensils. This New York Times article explains it well. These days, you can easily buy Fufu mix, which makes the process as easy as cooking in boiling water.

If Fufu feels like a daunting side to tackle, it is completely acceptable to eat Egusi with rice. Try this easy, perfect Instant Pot rice recipe! On top of that, roasted plantain goes well and is a staple ingredient many West African dishes.

You Can Make Egusi Ahead of Time

Make egusi soup and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium heat on the stovetop.


You can store unused egusi seeds in an airtight ziplock bag in the freezer for as long as a year! The finished soup can also be frozen and kept for 3-4 months.


a ceramic bowl of Vegan Nigerian Egusi soup with Fufu

Nigerian Egusi

This West African soup is made with tons of spinach and the unique ingredient of Melon Seed. The flavors are so unique and as exotic as it may sound, it is wonderfully easy to make!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Recipes-Soups
Cuisine African
Servings 4 people
Calories 106 kcal



  • Rough chop half of one onion. Remove the stem and seeds of the red bell pepper and rough chop. Remove the stems from the chile peppers if they are large.
    chopped onions and peppers for egusi
  • Place the chopped onion, bell pepper, chile peppers and water in a blender. Puree until smooth, stirring halfway through if needed. Set aside.
    blended onions and peppers for egusi
  • You should have one onion left. Dice this onion into roughly ¼” pieces.
    dicing onions
  • Heat the palm oil in a thick bottomed saucepot over medium heat, being careful that it does not get too hot- this oil burns easily.
  • Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown (about 3-4 minutes).
    adding onions to palm oil for cooking egusi
  • Add the pepper puree and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable stock and salt and let simmer another 5 minutes.
    adding pepper puree to onions for egusi
  • Add the ground egusi. Stir just enough to combine, but do not over mix.
    adding ground egusi to a broth for making egusi soup
  • Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook for 20 minutes. Stir only if you are worried it will burn, but try to disturb it as little as possible. When it is ready the egusi will be in one mass, looking a little bit like cheese curds.
    covering a pot with a lid to steam egusi soup
  • Remove lid and stir in the spinach. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Continue to stir and simmer with the spinach for about 5-10 minutes depending on how soupy you want it. (I like mine a little more loose, some people like to cook all the liquid out)
    stirring in spinach as the last step of making egusi soup
  • Serve while hot with white rice or fufu.
    a ceramic bowl of Vegan Nigerian Egusi soup with Fufu



Egusi can be made ahead and saved in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Reheat on the stovetop.  
My egusi recipe is photographed with Fufu, a pounded yam and plantain "swallow" (a thumb-and-finger pinch food to eat with).


Serving: 2cupsCalories: 106kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 8gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 858mgPotassium: 839mgFiber: 8gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 11891IUVitamin C: 81mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 4mg
Keyword african food, Best Vegan Recipes, egusi, nigerian egusi, nigerian food, vegan, vegan egusi, vegan recipes
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  1. Newbie Cook says

    I love the look of this recipe. I'm a bit of new to this cooking thing, what do you mean by 2 cups of vegetable broth? As in how do you make the vegetable broth, also in the vid it says add water and puree, how much of this should be added?

    • Kajsa@TwistofVegan says

      Hi. I hope you can try this recipe. It is DELICIOUS... and really quite simple once you have all the ingredients, and fairly fool-proof. The vegetable broth can be a store-bought broth, or homemade (I don't currently have a broth recipe up, but any will do). The water quantity is in the written recipe. Let me know if you have any other questions

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