ABE NKWAN (PALMNUT SOUP). RECIPES.
Ghanaians and soups, who can blame us! We love our soups, from light to thick based soups we love them all. We enjoy our soups all week round but weekends and particularly Sundays are days we love to sit, relax and enjoy a hearty soup. It’s our soul food you see! We even have restaurants promoting Omo tuo (Rice balls and soup usually Abe Nkwan) Special days on Sundays.
Abe Nkwan is a hearty, satisfying and filling soup. It is basically made from palmnut fruit puree. The palmnut fruit is boiled to soften it and then traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle. This separates the palm fruit chaff from the palm kernel. The pounding is done gently and with skill to prevent cracking the palm kernel shells in the process. There is always a skill which has got to be learnt in Ghanaian cooking! Hot water is then used to extract the palmnut fruit juice from the chaff. This is done through a repeat process of soaking, mixing, squeezing, straining and re-pounding. Ha! are you thinking this is not for me! Too much work! Yes it was a lot of work to make good old Abe Nkwan. As a child I hated the process but I loved to eat the soup with my rice balls so I went through the process with the end result in mind. But guess what, advancement and technology has simplified the process and made making this soup so easy and quick. Palmnut fruit concentrate are now canned and sold in most good African shops and even some of the usual supermarkets do retail them. So yes, go ahead buy one and try this hearty soup. I am sure you’ll love it as much as I do.
- 1kg Goat Meat (mixture of shoulder & leg)
- 2 Small Pieces of Smoked Fish
- 2 Stock Cube Meat Seasoning
- 2 Tsp Jumbo Crayfish Powder (alternatively use hard shelled shrimps)
- 2 Tsp Egye Aware Spice Blend (alternatively use a combination of thyme, Star Arnise, Aniseed (nkitinkiti), Rosemary & Cloves)
- 1 Small Calabash Nutmeg ( Wide3 Aba )
- 2 White Onions (Medium sizes)
- Fresh Ginger (about the length of the index finger)
- 5 Gloves of Garlic
- 1 Small Scotch Bonnet Pepper ( or to your taste)
- 3 Fresh Tomatoes on the vine (Medium sizes)
- 1 Small Can (400g) of Palmut Concentrate
- Small piece of Aridan fruit (Prekese)
- Water – about 3 litres
- Salt to taste
- Cut up meat into medium sizes, clean and place in a soup cooking pot (a deep once is recommended).
- Add the meat stock, crayfish powder, spice blend and 1 tsp of salt to the meat. Rub well into the meat and let it sit on the kitchen counter to season for about 30 minutes.
- Blend one onion, ½ of the ginger and 2 gloves of garlic together. Use about 1/2cup of water to help with the blending.
- Add the blended mixture to the meat and stir.
- Place the other onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper on top of the meat.
- Now place the pot on the hob on medium heat. Cover the pot and let the meat simmer until nice and tender. You may not need to add extra water as the natural juices from the meat will cook it. However, keep an eye on it to prevent burning. If the meat is tough, add extra water if needed.
- When the tomatoes and onions are soft, remove, together with the ginger and pepper. Blend all together.
- Add the blended mixture to the soup, cover and let it boil for about 15 minutes. Do this stage when the meat is tender.
- Blend the palmnut concentrate with 2 cans of water. Use the palmnut container/tin to measure.
- Pour the blended palmnut concentrate into the pot. Rinse out any palmnut concentrate left in the blender with a bit more and add to the pot.
- Add 1 litre of water to the soup and stir.
- Turn up the heat and let the soup boil. Do not cover the pot at this stage. As the soup boils, it will foam up and rise to the top. That is why you don’t cover it and you need a deep soup pot to prevent over spill. A cooking tip here to help de-foam is to stir!
- Add the prekese to the soup. Firstly wash and bruise the edges by cutting slits through it or bashing with a rolling pin. This helps the juice from the prekese to be released into the soup.
- When the soup has simmered down, turn down the heat and half cover the pot. Let it continue to simmer. A layer of oil will begin to form on the top of the soup.
- Now wash the smoked fish and add to the soup. Alternatively use grilled mackerel or any grilled or barbecued oily fish.
- Check the seasoning and add a bit of salt if needed.
- Three tips to check that the soup is cooked are:
- A) The soup simmers down, this is noticeable by the mark left from the original level of soup.
- B) A layer of oil is formed on the surface of the soup.
- C) The soup thickens and when taken off the heat and let to sit, it doesn’t separate into a layer of water and soup.
- When you tick the boxes for the above tips, then your soup is ready to be served. Skim off the oil from the top of the soup. Watch my video post on how to do this.
- Serve soup hot with fufu, boiled rice, rice balls, boiled yams, boiled potatoes, boiled ripe plantains or bread or just enjoy this hearty soup on its own. This soup gets tastier when left to rest overnight. So a good tip is to cook it a day before eating it.
FROM AFRAD VILLAGE KITCHEN.
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