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  • Writer's pictureAngela, Digital Chef, Africa Analyst

Spinach Stew - Nigerian Efo Riro

Nigerian spinach stew called Vegetable soup, is also known as 'Efo Riro' is one of the most flavorful and delicious spinach recipes one should try out. This Nigerian spinach stew isn't your traditional spinach stew because it's loaded with flavor and a popular Yoruba dish.

Efo riro is traditionally known as a vegetable soup, that the technique of preparation is more akin to stews in the west. It is made with various local green leafy vegetables such as ‘efo shoko', ‘tete' or ‘ugwu' that is stewed and stirred in blended fried peppers. The inclusion of 'iru - a native word for fermented locust beans, is prevalent in the local Yoruba style of making this soup. Iru gives the stew a good, distinct, and flavorful edge.

This vegetable soup is traditionally made with a variety of meats or shellfish, it may be altered to appeal to both vegetarians and meat lovers without losing its rich depth of flavor.


To make the puree:

  • 3 bell peppers, red

  • 2 habanero chilies (or according to your spice tolerance)

  • ½ medium yellow onion

  • 1 tomato

To make the stew:

  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • ½ onion (medium) (diced)

  • 4 ounces of mushroom (1 package)

  • 30 oz. spinach, fresh

  • a quarter-cup of palm oil

  • 2 bouillon cubes (vegetarian) (substitute with curry powder if unavailable)

  • 1 tablespoon of iru (optional)


1. Blanch the spinach - Although this recipe calls for two pots to reduce cooking time, you can do this step in the same pot if you like.

What is the best way to blanch spinach?

The idea is to bring some water to a roaring boil, then add the spinach for around 30 seconds. To halt the cooking process, remove it from the pan and place it in a dish of cold water. Drain and lay away the water!

2. In a deep pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, make a coarse puree with the red bell peppers, habanero peppers, tomato, and onion and set it aside.

3. When the oil is hot, add the onion and red pepper and sauté for about 30 seconds. Then add the puree and continue to cook until the natural scent is gone (about 4 to 5 minutes).

4. Fry for 1 minute with the bouillon, curry powder, and Iru or any seasoning of choice (optional).

5. Now add the mushrooms and bring them to a gentle simmer (bubbles will develop). When bubbles develop, add the blanched spinach, stir well, and simmer for about 2-3 minutes, uncovered. The food is ready to be served.

Note; To alter the spiciness of the puree, reduce the habanero peppers, replace red bell peppers with more tomatoes, or add additional habanero peppers if you want it hotter.

If you're using frozen spinach, make sure it's thawed first.

What Can I Eat this With?

Efo riro can be eaten with fried or boiled plantains, steamed rice, boiled yams, fufu or pounded yam in the traditional Nigerian style.


It can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and when ready to eat, thaw the portion you want for 30 minutes before reheating.

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