There are some days where a nice home cooked soup is all you need. Today’s post is of good old ‘swallow’. In Nigeria this particular soup is called Gbanga Soup or Abak Soup. In Ghana it is called Palm Nut Soup or Abe Nkwan. The two countries cook them slightly differently, and each have their own distinct flavour. Today, I made the Nigerian version. Even for cooking soup, I never buy meat from the market because I don’t like the idea of eating meat that flies have played ring-a-ring-a-roses on for hours on end, so I get mine from Shoprite because it’s clean, good value for money, and there’s a big window where you can watch what the butchers are doing. Also, I use palm kernel concentrate in a can. This is 2013 and I do not have the time or the inclination to be battling with whole heads of palm fruit, coaxing them to let out little puddles of juice for me to cook soup. I mean look at this. Ain’t nobody got time for that…

Palm Fruit Image from A vs Image B?palm nut concentrate

Which would you rather? Image A versus image B? Hahaha, I thought so. You can find the canned version at Ebeano in Lekki. I usually use the Nkulenu brand which is made in Ghana because Nigeria hasn’t caught on yet, but this time, I tried out this other Bankwus brand instead. This brand is slightly oiler than my preferred brand, but the taste was good so I don’t mind marking it as a back up option.


gbanga soup with beef


  • Boil the meat with chopped onions, some pepper, and maggi in a little bit of water
  • When it is nice and tender, add the washed dry fish
  • Add the gbanga straight from the can and let it simmer
  • You can now add the periwinkles or esem as they’re called in some parts
  • Sprinkle on some crayfish, and adjust the seasoning for salt, etc
  • At this point I put a pinch of Camerounian pepper (a blackish powdered version often sold as Peppersoup Spice). It has a more intriguing heat than straight up red pepper and adds to the complexity of this soup
  • Then throw in your Atama leaves. These are mostly used in Calabar style soups and lend a fragrant quality to the food
  • Follow this by adding your Gbanga Spice. I think it is disturbing how you can buy something called Gbanga spice, and no one has any idea what is in it, but it smells nice and aromatic and makes the flavour pop, so I just use it anyway, and will keep asking different people until they can tell me what exactly it is
  • Taste again, and by this time, the soup should be cooked
  • Serve and enjoy with poundo yam, garri, tuo, or even semovita (yuck)

Do you like Gbanga? How do you make it? 🙂