Waterleaf (Gbure) Soup


“I think you have at some point worked in mama put joint before” That was my mom approaching the kitchen as I cooked this beloved soup.

“Why do you say so?” I asked, smiling and feeling so proud

“Anytime you take over the kitchen, the whole house just starts smelling like mama put!”

Now, for a food lover, I guess that is one of the best compliments I could ever get. It’s not like I’m a great chef, but the love of food makes me seek out the adventure, and then try to reason out the “science” behind cooking. So, if you see a lot of breakdown and analysis during the course of this foody-journey, take heart, they are just my findings. And I kind of believe that making a great meal starts from understanding the food itself: why this is added at what point, and why that tastes the way it does.

So then, let’s dig it!



  • Waterleaves (Gbure)
  • 10 pieces Habanero peppers (rodo). This quantity depends on how hot you want the soup to be.
  • 4 pieces Bell peppers (tatase) optional
  • Tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 cube seasoning (optional)
  • 1 level teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tbsp Locust beans (iru). Washed
  • 1 cup Palm oil (depending on how much you like oil and quantity of the vegetables)
  • Meat (optional)
  • Smoked Fish (optional)



  • The bell peppers and tomatoes are optional because we all like our peppers at different levels. Some do not eat much hot peppers, in such a case, it is OK to add tomatoes. For others, they would just like to introduce a little more redness to the sauce, or they want to tone down the hotness a notch without the use of tomatoes, in which case bell peppers work just fine. In essence, you may cook this recipe with just habanero peppers, the fresher the better.
  • Seasoning is optional because, like our grannies used to teach, you can make your meals without oyinbo seasonings! Our local ones work just fine. For Yorubas, locust beans (iru) is what does the trick! You will see how as we proceed.
  • Meat and fish are optional. They are added to “pimp” things up. But if you do not have them, it doesn’t tarnish the taste in any way.



  • Sort and wash the vegetables well. Pour in a big sieve to drain. This vegetable tends to have a lot of water in it, hence the name; so, the less extra water you introduce, the better the outcome of the soup.
  • Dice or slice the onions.
  • Blend the peppers. Depending on how visible you like your onions to be, either blend them in with the peppers or leave them diced. How fine you blend your peppers depends on preference.
  • Clean the meat or fish
  • Cook the meat till tender, you can add some onions to help tenderize it; add some salt and a cube of seasoning cube to taste.
  • Frying the meat is optional.
  • If using smoked fish, simply clean well and set aside. Using salt water may be a good way of ensuring it is well cleaned
  • Pour the oil in a dry heated pot. It is safer to use a big pot because even if all you want is a plateful of vegetable, you may have to start with a big bowl of this vegetable, as it shrinks badly. Be mindful to keep the burner on low heat
  • Allow the oil to heat up till the onset of smoke is seen coming from it (the oil doesn’t have to get light)
  • Pour the diced onions in and allow it to slightly fry, still on low heat. Soon, you should perceive the nice aroma of frying onions.
  • Pour in the locust beans and allow it fry alongside the onions. The smell is “foody-heavenly”.
  • After a minute or two, turn up the burner so that the oil can heat up before introducing the pepper. This helps it get fried more easily. But don’t leave the heat on too long so as not to burn the onions.
  • Pour in the blended pepper once the oil is sufficiently hot. Allow it to fry well. Stir gently.
  • When the pepper is well fried, add the salt and seasoning (if using the mashed locust beans, here is where to introduce it because it acts as seasoning, blending better into your peppers than the other type). Let this sit for about a minute or two so that the seasoning gets worked into the sauce while the pepper fries some more. Allowing the pepper fry well will eliminate as much water from the pepper as possible.
  • Pour in the well drained vegetables and mix well with the pepper using a spatula.
  • Cover the pot and allow the vegetable to cook well into the pepper.
  • It should be done in about five minutes. Taste it to be sure it is cooked. First, the colour must have changed to a deeper shade of green, then it must have shrunk considerably well; it should also taste “cooked”.



© 2017 Temitope Adelakun
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the writer, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


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