Today, I will show you how to make a vegetarian cassava leaf soup from scratch. It still has an incredible umami flavor thanks to a few secret ingredients I’ve added.
This vegetarian soup recipe is incredibly easy to make. And it is packed with nutrients and hearty flavors! Perfect for any cold chilly night!
For some other hearty soup recipes, you can have a look at this Gbegiri Soup Recipe.
How Do You Make Cassava Leaf Soup?
Cassava leaf soup has many other names. In Congo, it is called Pondu or Saka Safa. It is also often referred to as a type of stew, depending on how thick it is.
This is a one-pot dish that is primarily made from cassava leaves. It contains a ton of delicious aromatics to give the leaves a more savory and hearty flavor profile.
Some common aromatics include onions, garlic, ginger, leeks, and green peppers. In terms of spices, the world is your oyster. This soup is also spicy or not (this part is really up to you).
Another essential ingredient for this recipe is red palm oil. It may be challenging to find, but it adds a ton of richness as few other ingredients can. Have a look at your local African grocer.
Traditional cassava leaf soup is also made with dried or smoked dried fish. It gives it a rich and umami flavor. But naturally, this ingredient may put some people off. Others are simply looking for a meat-free version to cut down on animal proteins or save some cost.
Luckily, I have developed a recipe that is completely vegetarian while still having rich flavors. And to some, it is also a vegan soup option.
To add the rich umami flavor, I add vegetable bouillon powder. The nori sheet also helps a lot but is optional. And if you’d still like to add some protein, tofu is the way to go.
Where To Find Cassava Leaves
This is the most challenging ingredient to find for most people. But, you will always be able to get it frozen at an African grocer.
The frozen leaves have to be prepared before you can use them in this recipe. Fresh cassava leaves are difficult to find outside any African regions that grow them.
The leaves have to be thoroughly defrosted and dried. If it is still icy or too wet, it will change the consistency (and flavor) of your soup.
Tips And Tricks
- The nori sheets (dried seaweed) add a savory salty umami flavor to this cassava leaf soup. If you cannot find the powdered form of it, you can always make the powder yourself. To do so, blend one sheet of nori to make roughly a teaspoon of powder.
- If you would like to add tofu to this recipe, add about 1/2 to 1 cup of smoked tofu. The smoky flavors will also add a similar umami meaty undertone that dried fish powder adds.
- Another addition you can make is adding some mushrooms. I personally love oyster mushrooms or enoki mushrooms but use whatever you can find. It is a great way to add some texture.
What can I substitute for cassava leaves?
In this recipe, there is no appropriate substitute for cassava leaves. After all, they are the main ingredient for this recipe! Without it, the flavor will be completely different. In general, you can use chopped spinach instead of cassava leaves (in other recipes). Or, if you are short some leaves for a recipe, you can replace the missing quantity with spinach.
What can you serve with cassava leaf soup?
Cassava soup can be enjoyed on its own. But, you can also add it to other dishes to create a meal. Serving it with fried plantains or plain cooked rice. You can also serve it with my homemade Amala Swallows or Ugali. All of these are great options, but have a look at my site for some more ideas.
Is this cassava leaf stew healthy?
These leaves do have a lot of fantastic nutritional benefits. It is high in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, thiamine, and riboflavin are some of the most notable. But, it is also a calorie-dense ingredient. So, portion control is essential, even though it’s hard with such a tasty dish!
Is cassava leaf poisonous?
In its raw form, cassava leaves are inedible. It needs to boil for a while to remove the toxins completely. That is why this soup cooks for so long, even if they are just made from leaves.
More Delicious Soups
Delicious Vegetarian Cassava Leaf Soup
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, deseeded and diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 habanero pepper, deseeded and diced
- 2 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp powdered nori
- 2 pounds frozen cassava leaves, thawed
- 1/3 cup red palm oil
- 8 cups water
- Prepare all of your vegetables. Then, take half of the diced onion, leek, green pepper, and minced garlic, and blend it in a food processor. Set it aside.
- In a large pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the other half of the vegetables (onion, leek, green bell pepper, and garlic). You can also add the habanero pepper. Saute the ingredients for 3-5 minutes.
- Then, add the vegetable bouillon powder, flour, garlic powder, and powdered nori. Give them a good stir so that all the vegetables are well coated.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Now, add the thawed, dried chopped cassava leaves with the red palm oil. Stir them in very well.
- Add the blended vegetable mix to the pot as well. Stir it in good.
- Finally, add your water. Stir the ingredients very well so that the flavors merge beautifully.
- Place the pot back onto medium-high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil. Allow the soup to boil gently for 45 minutes.
- After the soup has cooked sufficiently, you can add salt and pepper to taste. You can also adjust the spiciness of the cassava leaf soup.
- Leave the soup to simmer for another 10-15 minutes until you don't have any excess water. It should be thick in consistency and have a bright green color.
- Serve your stew immediately while it's still hot. It goes amazingly well with plantains, rice, cassava, or fufu.