Efo riro (vegetable soup): Get it right

Efo Riro (vegetable soup) is a rich vegetable soup that is native to the Yoruba’s of Western Nigeria. The name ‘efo’ means vegetables, hence it is a Yoruba rich vegetable soup/stew. Believe me when I tell you that this happens to be one of the most delicious Yoruba soups that I have made. The vegetables that can be used to cook this soup are water leaves and pumpkin leaves. If these are not readily available where you live, frozen spinach is a very good substitute.

So many people diss the Yoruba folks about their inability to cook the most expensive meal or even cook, they even go into deep arguments when it comes to listing which has the most “obstacle” (meat of various kinds). I really do not know where their assumption and annoying stereotype came from. Sometimes I believe action cries louder than words.

You know that “efo” situation where the efo sits on one side of the bowl and the water migrates to the other side?  That isn’t efo riro. I cook watery efo every now and again; I always crave the saucy part especially for rice. The unique taste of efo riro comes from the use of Locust beans, Bleaching of palm oil and the absence of tomatoes.

Here is my authentic efo riro recipe, I think it would take a little over 30 mins for preparing the ingredients and then Amala the actual cooking takes about 60 minutes. As usual, the ingredients below can serve just about 5-6 people, you can increase or decrease, this depends on your budget.


  • Sliced Spinach leaves (7-10 cups)
  • 7-10 pieces stock fish ear
  • assorted meat (1KG)
  • 1 cup of sliced tatashe (red bell pepper)
  • quarter cup of sliced pepper (ata rodo)
  • half cup of sliced onions
  • Half Cup of Ground Crayfish
  • 2-3 spoons of iru (locust beans)
  • smoked fish (2-3 medium)
  • Palm oil (200ml)
  • 3 Maggie cubes

    Ingredients for efo riro

Before you cook:

  • Soak the stock fish and dry fish for a few hours. The length of time depends on how hard the stock fish is.
  • When soft, clean the fish, remove the bones and separate them into small pieces.
  • Cut the frozen spinach and wring out the excess water when fully defrosted.
  • Prepare other ingredients: pound/blitz the pepper, cut the onions and grind the crayfish


  1. Place the washed meat in a pot, add a little of water, season with salt, sliced onions, 2 Maggie cubes and allow to boil for 10-15 minutes, add 1-2 cups of water and cook till tender and the water is almost dried.
  2. Add the smoked fish, stock fish, add a cup of water and cook for another 10-15 minutes depending on the hardness of your stock fish. The water should be almost dried, don’t allow to burn.
  3. Remove the pot from heat, place another pot on heat and pour in some palm oil, 200ml. Allow to heat before adding the sliced onions, pepper/tatashe, stir and allow to fry for another ten minutes while stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
  4. Add the cooked meat/stock fish/smoked fish, stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, add the crayfish, iru, stir and allow another 3 minutes. Add a cube of Maggie, salt to taste, stir and add the spinach leaves (do not let it stay for long because of the nutrients in the leaves). Stir all together and allow to simmer for another 3-5 minutes and you just made a delicious pot of efo riro.

    garnished efo riro
    garnished efo riro

This soup is usually served with Eba (garri), Pounded yam, Amala, fufu, rice, Semolina, or any other food of choice. Preferably I love mine with fufu.

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By Blessing Nwachukwu | [email protected]

Diet234 Team

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