Many Bini people, of Edo State, consider the omoebe soup to be their best-known dish. A soup of herbs and spice, it is also known as the “black soup” due to both the dark colour of the ground bitter leaves and effirin (scent leaves) and to the colouration from the banga sauce (palm fruit) used. The darkening is a result of the leaves oxidizing. The colour, though, is dark green.
Traditionally, the pumpkin leaves are ground with stone for texture, but they could be blended. If the bitter leaves are fresh, they must be washed several times to rid the bitter taste—with water, soda, or edible potash. Omoebe soup is topped with beef, shaki, ponmo, or stockfish, and served with eba, starch, or pounded yam.
The herbs have medicinal qualities: the bitter leaves stimulate digestive juices, the pumpkin leaves reduce hypertension, and the scent leaves have anti-inflammatory properties. They also reduce calories.
The Bini Black Soup is different from the one out of Ondo, for which marugbo leaves are used.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a Nigerian writer, editor, journalist, and curator. As Editor of Folio Nigeria, he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: business, art, photography, music, activism, health, food. He has extensive experience working in the African literary scene. He is currently the chair of judges for The Gerald Kraak Prize, for African storytellers exploring social justice, sexuality, and gender, and he was a judge for The Morland Scholarship. He was an editor at 14, Nigeria's first queer art collective, and Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. From late 2016 to early 2020, he led the transformation of the literary blog Brittle Paper to a standard platform, creating and administering The Brittle Paper Awards, the first by an African publication. His work in queer visibility advocacy has been profiled in Literary Hub. In 2019, he won the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. He completed a collection of short stories in 2016 and his novel in 2020. He has an MA in African studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. From 2017 to 2018, he taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.