Banga soup is simply the best soup. It is a popular soup of people from the Delta state in Nigeria. The traditional recipe may sound very intimidating though, especially to people on a plant-based diet. Indeed, the soup has beef, fish, and seafood in it. The soup base is cooked with palm fruits and spices that sound unfamiliar to most people. The good news is that the palm fruit concentrate, periwinkle and Banga spices can be easily bought online. Some extra bitterness can be achieved using bay leaves, and animal products can be quite easily substituted.
Palm oil has earned a mixed reputation, but it is not as bad as it sounds at all. To begin with, the “bad” palm oil is the one that goes through the process called hydrogenation. As a result, it becomes harder at room temperature and develops unnatural trans fats in the process. It is these artificial trans fats that are not good for our health.
Banga soup, on the contrary, uses unprocessed palm fruits and, therefore, unaltered palm oil. Non-hydrogenated palm oil is free of any trans fats and is actually quite healthy. It is packed with vitamin E, carotenoids and antioxidants. It has 50% of saturated fat content, which is less than butter. If you still feel uneasy about palm oil, the excess of it can be easily skimmed during cooking.
With respect to meat, seafood and freshwater fish, we don’t really need these to enjoy Banga soup. This number one soup in the world can be vegan, super tasty and healthy all at the same time!
For 2-3 servings, you will need:
- About 2 cups or approx. 400g palm fruit concentrate. It usually comes in 400 or 800g cans
- About a cup of vegan meat substitute (also tofu or tempeh will do)
- One white onion
- 1-2 packets of Kombu Dashi stock, depending on the amount of seafood flavor you want to have
- 1 tablespoon of Dark Miso soup concentrate for savory and complex umami taste
- 1 veggie stock cube
- Banga spice to taste (approx. half to a full tablespoon)
- Periwinkle herb to taste
- 1-2 bay leaves for some bitterness
- Tropical Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (to taste)
- Himalayan salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- A couple of drops of hickory liquid smoke
- Optional lemon juice
The first and the longest step is marinating our vegan meat substitute. This step is not in the original recipe, but it will add a lot of natural barbeque flavor to the soup. Chop onion into somewhat large pieces.
Add some salt, vinegar, Banga spice, periwinkle herb, mustard, liquid smoke, pepper sauce and 1-2 tablespoons of palm concentrate. Mix all of them well in a bowl.
Cut the “meat” into bite-size pieces and add them to the mix.
Mix well several times and leave it to marinade. It is better to leave this mixture overnight in the fridge. However, if you don’t have time, leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature and toss from time to time.
In the meantime, put the remaining palm fruit concentrate into a saucepan.
Add a veggie stock cube, kombu dashi powder, miso soup concentrate and bay leaves. Add approx. 800ml water (boiling water will save time). The amount of water is normally double the amount of palm fruit concentrate.
Set the pan to a high heat when the marinated “meat” is almost ready. The onion can be removed from the mixture at this point and disposed of. Add the marinated vegan meat mixture to the soup, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
The palm oil will float to the surface during cooking. The excess palm oil can be skimmed off with a spoon.
Palm oil is used to make another dish called Delta starch. It is made of cassava flour, palm oil and water. Delta starch is usually served with Banga soup.
Close to the end of the cooking time, add more Banga spice and salt to taste. Take out the bay leaves from the soup. This soup tastes better if it provides all five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. If the soup is not sour enough to taste, add a small amount of lemon juice.
Serve hot and enjoy!