Cassava leaf soup is a traditional African dish that's great for when you want to be cosy but also want to feel like you're eating healthy. It's made with cassava leaves, rich in vitamins and minerals.
This dish is often served as a side dish or appetizer, but it can also be eaten as a main course. It's light and refreshing but still filling enough to satisfy you until your next meal.
What is Cassava?
If you've ever taken a bite of yuca frita and thought, "Wow, I should probably learn more about the fascinating plant that produced this crispy-yet-fluffy culinary masterpiece," then have I got the article for you!
Cassava. It's a mouthful of a name, isn't it? And when you take the first bite, you'll understand why: it's a root vegetable that packs quite the punch. Cassava is used as a staple food worldwide and is grown in tropical climates from Africa to South America. The cassava plant can grow up to 6 meters high, but the edible part is its starchy root that grows underground.
If you like eating cake, chips or fries (and let's face it—who doesn't?), then you've probably eaten cassava without even knowing it! If you're someone who eats pretty much anything at all, then the chances are good that this rooty wonder has made its way into your stomach at some point or another.
Cassava is classified as both a herbaceous shrub and an annual bush with large green leaves that bear small white flowers on top of them; they produce fruit which looks like blackberries but tastes more like strawberries when ripe.
Also, cassava provides carbohydrates but very little protein, so it's usually eaten with other foods (e.g., beans or meat). Cassava has been cultivated worldwide, but one of its most important uses is in making tapioca pudding. Tapioca pudding is delicious. However, if you don't prepare cassava correctly and eat it raw, you will feel the horrible effects of cyanide poisoning, which is not fun for anyone involved.
Also called green cassava, manioc and mandioca, cassava leaf is the leaf of the cassava plant. With a mild taste reminiscent of spinach, collard greens or okra, it is typically boiled until soft and eaten with other vegetables to add texture and substance to a meal. It has historically been used to treat various ailments such as stomach aches, fevers and poisoning.
But this common vegetable also comes with potential risks. Cassava root releases cyanide when chewed or crushed to be cooked. Cyanide is toxic at high levels but can be rendered harmless when cooked at high temperatures for long periods, or by soaking in water before cooking. Unfortunately, not everyone adequately prepares their cassava root before consumption, so some people avoid eating it altogether despite its health benefits because of cyanide poisoning fears. There are still concerns about toxicity, in the leaves if they're not appropriately prepared (boiled) before consumption.
Cassava leaves are good sources of various nutrients, including protein and calcium—essential for building bones. They also provide vitamin C and beta-carotene, which support the immune system. In addition to these nutrients, cassava leaves provide iron and zinc—nutrients that support immune function and are essential for growth and development during pregnancy. Cassava leaves are also high in fibre.
So if you're looking for something new to add some zip to your next salad, check out this star ingredient.
Cassava is a root vegetable
You may be thinking, "That just sounds like another way of saying a potato." And to that, I say: You are correct! Cassava and potatoes are both underground vegetables with similar properties (including a vague resemblance in their external appearance). But cassava is not the same as potatoes. The confusion comes from the fact that the term "root vegetable" can describe many different kinds of products, including tubers and rhizomes. In the case of cassava, it is a tuber—a thickened root (like its distant cousin, the potato) that grows underground. In general, tubers store energy for growth—which means they are high in starch or sugars.
The cassava is a vital root vegetable to millions of people
When I was growing up, my friends and I used cassava in all sorts of dishes. We'd cut it into slices and boil them until they were tender enough to mash with a fork. Often we'd use the mash as a substitute for potatoes in pie fillings; other times, we might mix it with coconut milk before serving over rice or noodles–that's when things got interesting!
What Does Cassava Taste Like?
Cassava is a sweet or bitter root depending on the variety. Sweet cassava, which contains low levels of cyanide, is what you'll find in most stores in the form of tapioca. Bitter cassava contains high levels of cyanide and must be processed before it can be eaten. You might see this used in making gari, toasted granulated cassava that resembles couscous and is popularly served as eba—a thick paste accompanied by soup in Nigeria.
Also, sweet cassava is usually used fresh and bitter cassava is generally preserved by sun-drying, which makes them interchangeable in specific recipes—but remember that your taste buds might not be so easily fooled.
Cassava has many other uses besides food as well. It's pressed into butter or oil, put into livestock feed, made into paper pulp and so on.
How Long is Cassava?
The starchy roots grow as long as about a meter (3 feet) and have thick brown bark with light yellow, creamy white or pale pink flesh. The aesthetic qualities of this vegetable are certainly nothing to write home about - aside from its many other uses, it's also often used as animal feed - but cassava boasts some powerful nutritional benefits, including high levels of carbohydrates and fibre. It's also naturally gluten-free.
How to Eat Cassava Leaves for the Best Results?
Apples. Oranges. Pineapples. Bananas. All of these fruits are healthy for you and delicious too, but why not add something new to your diet? Cassava leaves, according to nutritionists, offer a lot of benefits to your health. They're rich in protein and iron—just a few of their nourishing qualities!
You can consume cassava leaves in many ways: salads, and even soup recipes can be made using them! It is also possible to steam them on their own without any seasoning, making this vegetable perfect if you're vegan or vegetarian.
Cassava leaves have a mild flavour, so they complement almost any dish nicely--try adding them into rice dishes like paella or risotto; toss them together with pasta; add some extra nutrition by making couscous salad! The options are endless when adding this superfood into your daily life.
How to Prepare Cassava Leaves
So you've decided you want to make your cassava leaf dish. This dish is nutritious, but it also tastes great—although it may not have always tasted this good. It wasn't until the Europeans arrived in Africa that cassava leaves were seasoned, and their recipe has largely remained unchanged since then. Here's how to prepare them:
- Cooked meat
- Chopped vegetables–onions
- Garlic powder
- Jalapeno peppers
- Ground cayenne pepper
- Add salt
Boil a large pot of water on high heat.
Wash the cassava leaves thoroughly to remove dirt.
Boil cassava leaves in water and reduce the heat when the water begins to boil. Either chop or leave them whole, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
After draining the pot and refilling it with fresh water, add chopped vegetables, spices, and cooked meat to the pot. For example, add chopped onions and cooked turkey with 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp garlic powder. Also, stir ingredients thoroughly.
Return the pot to the stove, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the cassava leaves and vegetables are tender.
Caution: Do not try to eat cassava leaves raw (unless you want to be badly poisoned).
The Benefits of Cassava Leaf Soup
If you enjoy eating, then the benefits of cassava leaf soup should be fascinating. As far as soups go, it's packed with protein and other nutrients which can help your body heal and stay in shape. If a lack of energy or poor health keeps you from doing what you want during your day, try adding some cassava leaf soup to your diet.
Cassava leaf soup is also great for people with hectic schedules since it doesn't take long to prepare. Even if you only have time to cook once a week, this could be the perfect dish! The nutritional value of this dish is relatively high—it's full of vitamins, and some studies suggest regular consumption may even prevent cancer! With all these benefits, what's stopping anyone from trying this tasty meal?
Let's check out other benefits of cassava:
Cassava is a source of plant-based protein
If you're transitioning to a plant-based diet—or simply looking to include more plants in your meals—cassava leaf soup is a great dish to add to your meal plan. On top of providing you with fibre, vitamins and minerals, cassava is also a good source of plant-based protein. It contains more protein than potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams. Its nutritional profile makes it an excellent alternative to meat and poultry.
It is excellent for regulating blood sugar levels
The glycemic index measures how quickly food raises your blood sugar levels. Foods with high GI values are considered "bad" because they cause your blood sugar to spike, while low-GI foods like cassava are considered "good" because they're absorbed more slowly and have less impact on your blood sugar level overall. Because cassava is so low on the glycemic index, it's one of the best carb sources you can use to control diabetes symptoms, making it the perfect addition to any diabetic diet.
Cassava leaves are packed with antioxidants
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules that have the power to prevent cellular damage due to free radicals, which can occur from things such as exposure to radiation and even just the normal breakdown of food during metabolism. The body has a natural process that produces antioxidants, but they can also be found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. While antioxidants can help fight infection and inflammation, it is essential to remember that there is no concrete evidence suggesting they will prevent or cure disease (such as cancer).
How do antioxidants work?
Antioxidants are so powerful because they contain active compounds called flavonoids. These flavonoids provide many benefits—the most notable being their ability to neutralize free radicals.
How do you know if a plant contains flavonoids?
If it's colourful! Because this plant is green in colour (as most leafy greens are), you may not realize it has high levels of flavonoids.
They are high in vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that helps your body produce collagen, which keeps your tissues and skin healthy. It also plays a significant role in wound healing, immune function, and iron absorption (which supports red blood cell production). Vitamin C can be found in a lot of citrus fruits. But if you're looking for an alternative to citrus fruit or want to add variety to your diet, cassava leaves are another great way to get more vitamin C.
Cassava can help you manage your weight
Cassava leaf soup is a blessing for those looking to manage their weight. It's high in fibre and low on the glycemic index, so it helps you handle your blood sugar levels, meaning you'll feel fuller faster and stave off cravings for unhealthy treats. Most notably, cassava can help you bulk up. With its high fibre and low-fat content, it's a popular post-workout smoothie ingredient among bodybuilders looking to build muscle and recover faster from workouts. The high protein content also makes cassava more than just a side dish. In combination with other plant sources of protein (like beans or legumes), one serving of the soup can provide half of your daily recommended intake of protein.
Cassava contains essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and copper
Cassava can be a healthy addition to your diet because these nutrients help maintain bone density and strength, regulate blood pressure levels and support the immune system.
How To Cook Cassava Leaf Soup
If you're looking for a new soup to stir up, this recipe is just what you need. There's nothing quite like a warm bowl of soup in the middle of winter, especially if it's a fresh and healthy one. Cassava leaf soup is a traditional Nigerian dish that combines vegetables and seasonings with your choice of meat or fish into a filling and flavorful meal. With a prep time of fewer than 1 hour, this is an easy-to-make option that's great for busy weeknights. Let's dive in!
This meal will require the following ingredients:
- 3 pounds of frozen cassava leaves
- beef, 1 pound (cut into bite-size pieces)
- One medium onion chopped
- ½ pound smoked chicken, turkey, fish
- 1/2 cup ground crayfish (dried shrimps)
- ½ - 1 cup palm oil (you can use ½ palm oil and half canola oil)
- One tablespoon of chicken bouillon or Maggie powder
- 4-5 tablespoons ground groundnuts (peanut butter puree)
- One scotch bonnet pepper (1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional)
- 1/2 - 1 pound shrimp (optional)
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Season meat with salt, Maggi, and onions and boil until tender. You should have at least 1-2 cups of broth. Remove the meat and keep it warm.
- Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, crayfish, beef, and or / smoked meat. Cook until the onions are fragrant and the beef is browned about 1-2 minutes.
- Add peanut butter or groundnut paste to the saucepan, then add a cup of stock and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Cook the drained cassava leaves for about 27 minutes after adding them to the pot.
- When using shrimp, add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 3-5 minutes.
- Season to taste, adding more salt and pepper if desired.
- Serve over rice, warm or at room temperature.
Cassava leaf soup is a wholesome meal that will put a smile on your face
Serve this tasty soup with a side of white rice, yams or plantains.
This soup will last for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator and freezes well. Place it in an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
You can make this recipe vegan by omitting the smoked turkey and replacing it with extra mushrooms, carrots, or other vegetables.
For other soups, you could add cassava leaves, try Asaro (Yam Pepper Soup), Egusi Ijebu (Melon Seeds Soup), and Efo Riro (Vegetable Stew) or Gbegiri (Black-eyed Pea Stew).
Why Do Some People Prefer Frozen Cassava?
Cassava can be prepared using fresh cassava roots or frozen cassava roots. Some people prefer frozen cassava because it's common in supermarkets, while others prefer fresh cassava because they are more nutritious. Let's explore why some people prefer frozen cassava.
#1 They are less expensive
Some people prefer frozen cassava because it is less expensive. Fresh cassava can go rancid quickly, which means the shipping costs of this product are higher. In contrast, you only have to ship frozen cassava once, resulting in a lower price for the consumer. Plus, if you buy frozen cassava in bulk, you will save even more money.
#2 Frozen cassava is 'cleaned' of toxins
Cyanide is a deadly poison, so it's obvious why we should stay away from raw cassava. Cyanide stops the body's cells from using oxygen, causing them to die within minutes. However, if you ingest cyanide in small quantities, your body can detoxify the poison and prevent harm.
It is best to cook the root before consumption. The cooking process also dissolves dietary fibre in cassava, making the nutrients more accessible and increasing digestibility. The freezing or drying process that leads to frozen or dried cassava also helps kill toxins present in Cassava roots.
#3 They can be transported anywhere (even internationally)
Frozen cassava can also be sent to remote or developing areas that don't have an efficient infrastructure. It can also be sent to places with no safe way to refrigerate the product.
#4 Frozen cassava has a longer shelf life
If you're looking to stretch out your cassava supply over a more extended period, there are several reasons why frozen cassava is the way to go. First and foremost, it has a longer shelf life than fresh or dried cassava, which can be made into flour. When stored at freezing temperatures, cassava can stay good for up to one year.
For this to happen, however, you must use an airtight container that's completely closed off from any moisture. When you freeze foods like fruits or vegetables (or, in this case, a root crop), their cells become more porous and start absorbing water from the environment—it's like putting a sponge in the freezer! The excess moisture will then make them mushy once they thaw out.
What is Pondu?
Let me start by stating that Pondu is a traditional food in the Congo and many neighbouring countries in Africa. It has been served and eaten for generations. Although it can be made using various ingredients, pondu is traditionally made with cassava leaves, palm oil and salt.
The Health Benefits of Eating Pondu
Not only is pondu a tasty, versatile food that people of all ages can enjoy, but it also has a lot of health benefits. For example, pondu is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Pondu is also an excellent choice for vegetarians due to its high protein content and contribution to overall nutrition. The fibre in pondu aids digestion and promotes healthy gut bacteria.
It's crucial to consume suitable types of food because it can help you feel better about yourself. If you are eating healthy foods, then you will feel healthier not only physically but also mentally. When you eat healthy foods, they release chemicals into your brain that make you feel good about life and yourself—and if that doesn't make sense to you, think about how great it feels when someone gives you a big hug.