This Nigerian Beef and Ramen Noodle Pepper soup is a Simple and Low-Calorie Broth with Complex Flavours
Let me introduce you to one of the most prolific and versatile soups in Nigeria… Pepper Soup. If you haven’t come across Nigerian Pepper Soup, let me break it down to you. This soup is a simple broth – a consommé comes to mind – with very complex flavours. It is usually made with chicken, fish, beef or assorted meat, which is a way of using up different cuts of meat including the innards. And its’ characteristic complex flavours are courtesy of the mix of traditional spices from which this dish derives its signature.
Another defining characteristic of this dish is in the name. Nigerians really take the word “pepper” in Pepper soup literally. Boy! this soup is as spicy as it gets. Many years ago when I lived in Nigeria, I could easily tolerate the heat in a traditional Nigerian pepper soup. However, living in the diaspora for the last few decades has tamed my “spicy tooth” somewhat… Although my favourite lunch-time Thai restaurant in Zürich would beg to disagree, as I am always requesting extra servings of chilli at lunchtime. But I really have lost my “fiery-tooth”.
Did I mention versatility? This soup is all things to all people. Every respectable pub or bar has its own house pepper soup on tap – the perfect accompaniment to a cold glass of Gulder or Guinness Beer. Wedding feasts, naming ceremonies, and other social gatherings are not complete without pepper soup. The old folks will tell you it is the cure for malaria, colds, and/or any form of aches and pains that one may have. And new mothers will often receive more than one bowl of pepper soup from relatives to speed up the post-birth recovery process.
Whether pepper soup does indeed possess these supernatural abilities is debatable. However, the spices used (African Negro pepper, Alligator Pepper and Jamaican Nutmeg) are ancient spices that have medicinal qualities that are beneficial to the general wellbeing – so maybe that’s it?
The hot and spicy nature of this soup is one that lends itself well to being sipped on a cold winter’s evening, but for me, pepper Soup is so reminiscent of home, that the ability to recreate it in my alpine kitchen in Switzerland, is a symbolic amalgamation of two distinct facets of my life – and so, I have given myself the permission to enjoy my pepper soup on a warm summer-like day in month of May.
Knowing me as you do by now, I have “jazzed” it up. For starters, I made the base with bone broth, infused with the African spices. My meat of choice was roasted grass-fed fillet of beef, which I first browned to seal in the juices and roasted till rare. Finally, I topped my pepper soup ramen noodles – because I couldn’t help myself…
Place the beef bones in a Dutch oven. Cover the bones with cold water, bring to a boil. With heat still on high, allow bone to simmer aggressively for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain the liquid and scum away.
Preheat the oven to 350°C. Place all of the bones that you have just blanched on a baking sheet. Roast until bones are well-browned (40 - 50 minutes).
Transfer the bones to the Dutch Oven and add 4 litres of water, along with the spices (alligator pepper, negro pepper and jamaican nutmeg). Bring to a low boil, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 - 12 hours, adding water as needed to keep the bones covered.
About 3 hours to the end of the simmering, add the garlic, onions and carrot. Simmer for another 3 - 4 hours.
Discard the bones and strain through a fine sieve. Allow to cool completely, and then transfer to storage jar or bowl and refrigerate. If you making a batch for use later than a week, then transfer the cooled broth to a freezer storage bag, for freezing. This should last about 6 months, if unopened.
For the Peppersoup
Prepare your fillet of beef for cooking, by rubbing a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over the meat and then sprinkle some salt and black pepper (optional).
Place a medium-sized skillet on the heat. Add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to the skillet and when hot, transfer the beef to the pan and fry for approximately 5 minutes while turning the meat in the pan to ensure all sides are thoroughly browned. Remove from heat, cover and set aside. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Fan-assisted or 200 degrees celsius.
Add the chopped onions and garlic to the skillet and fry for 2 - 3 minutes to release the aromas. Add a little bit of the bone broth to the skillet to deglaze the skillet, and then transfer the contents of the skillet to a Dutch Oven.
Add all the bone broth, stock cube, scotch bonnet pepper, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer covered for 15 - 20 minutes.Transfer your browned fillet to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
While the meat is roasting, prepare the ramen noodles according to the package instructions. Do not overcook the ramen. They should be slightly al-dente.Remove from the oven and slice the beef into 1cm - 2cm thick slices. The beef should be cooked rare at this point.
Transfer the beef slices, chopped basil, and ramen noodles into the Dutch oven. Allow to simmer for another 3 - 5 minutes.
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Nigerian Beef and Ramen Peppersoup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 503Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.03g
Total Carbohydrates 46g15%
Dietary Fiber 3g12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.