Egusi Soup With Chicken

Egusi soup, also called melon soup, is an absolute delightful delicacy enjoyed all over West Africa. It is one of the most popular sauces in the region.

The main ingredient for this sauce,  comes from the dry seeds of the melon plant closely related to squash. Egusi is a thickener for meat or fish broth, simmered to create egusi soup. Serve this sauce with eba, pounded yam, tuwo, banku or any fufu product.

Where egusi or melon seeds are not obtainable, some have used pumpkin seeds as substitutes, although you do not get the same great flavour. Egusi is available in most African food shops.

With loads of distinct ethnic groups in West Africa, there are a lot of variations to egusi soup. However, one thing the various groups agree on is that it is always a delicious meal.

With most soups and sauces from this region, meat and fish are cooked in water and spices to form a broth. The broth serves as the base for various soups. Any chicken, beef and fish are a part of the sauce. To save time, I cook my broth beforehand. Such early preparation means my sauce is ready in about 40 minutes or less on weekdays when I need to fix dinner fast.

For this recipe, you could either use homemade chicken broth. Or use storebought ones.

Egusi soup

Servings: 10

Prep Time: 20 min

Cooking Time: 50 min


  • 1 litre of chicken broth
  • 1 Cup stockfish pieces(optional but available in most African food shops)
  • 2 medium sized dry fish
  • 3 tablespoons palm oil
  • 1 medium size finely chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Crayfish
  • 1-2 Teaspoons grounded cayene pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 Cup egusi seeds (ground with a dry blender)
  • Grilled chicken thigh or drumsticks ( 2 per person)
  • 2 Cups chopped spinach
  • salt to taste


Note: It is best to prepare some things before hand.

Find  instructions for grilling the chicken or use your own recipe or buy already grilled or roasted chicken. Anything to reduce cooking time is worth it.

Prepare and measure out all ingredients before cooking.

Pour the broth in a pot.

Debone the fish. thoroughly rinse the fish and stockfish pieces if using.

Transfer the fish and stockfish into the pot of broth and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes. This is to extract the fish flavour into the broth.

While the fish is cooking, heat a heavy based pot and melt the palm oil but not smokey 2-3 minutes.

Fry the chopped onion in the oil for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the paste 2-3 minutes

Stir in the crayfish and cayenne pepper for 1 minute

Stir in the grounded egusi, stirring continuously until it releases its distinct flavour in about 3 minutes.

Pour about a litre of the broth and fish, then, stir to combine with the egusi.

Cover the pot and allow to cook on medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes.

Stir and repeat every 5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes before adding the grilled chicken.

Please add more of the broth if you find it too thick. (But if using frozen vegetables ignore the thickness as the veggies will add more liquid to the sauce. I have discovered that with this quantity of egusi three cups of the broth is the perfect point. But add the last cup if you want a lighter sauce)

Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly

Allow chicken to simmer in the sauce for about ten minutes then, add the spinach and cook for a further 3-5  minutes and turn off heat

Serve with eba, or any fufu meal, rice, yam, plantain.

Bon appetite.

Recipe provided by

Did you know you could swap the palm oil for olive oil. To still give that orange colour effect I add 2 teaspoons of tumeric. Tumeric is packed with loads of goodness. Read about it here.

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