Pepper Soup with Short Ribs from My Everyday Lagos

This brothy soup is made from a distinct blend of ground seeds, spices, chiles, and fresh herbs. For me, peppersoup embodies the playfulness and inventiveness of our cuisine. The delicate layering of flavors is a hallmark of so many of our best dishes. One generous spoonful of this heady broth is all it takes to feel the sensation of sweat sweeping over you and a sharp tingling flare in your nostrils— exactly what you’d experience in the humidity of noontime Lagos. While whole cuts of bone-in meats are essential to the broth, a lively mix of mushrooms will make for a satisfactory vegetarian version. Fresh scent leaf is the ideal finish, but in its absence any herb with a sharp bite, such as basil or cilantro, will work.

Pepper Soup with Short Ribs from My Everyday Lagos



  • 3½ to 4 pounds bone-in short ribs, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 2 large red onions (about 1½ pounds), peeled and quartered
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, cut into 4-inch pieces and smashed with the back of a knife
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved crosswise
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 6 small dried hot chiles, such as bird’s-eye or cayenne
  • 2 dried smoked chiles, such as chipotle
  • 6 selim seed pods (optional), crushed lightly using the back of a knife
  • 1 tablespoon Trinity Pepper Paste (page 102)
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons Toasted Peppersoup Spice (page 99 in the cookbook), plus more for garnish
  • Fine salt to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup picked scent leaves (or African or Thai basil)

Pepper Soup with Short Ribs from My Everyday Lagos


  1. Step 1

    Place the short ribs in a stockpot and cover with about 4 quarts of water. Add in the onions, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, bay leaf, dried chiles, and selim seed pods if using.

    Step 2

     Place over high heat, bring up to a boil and lower the heat to medium. Allow the stock to simmer until the meat is cooked through, tender, and falls apart when picked at with a fork, about 2½ to 3 hours.

    Step 3

     Add more water as needed to keep the liquid 2 inches above the surface of the meat.

    Step 4

    Remove the short ribs, set aside, and add the pepper paste, thyme, parsley, and cilantro.

    Step 5

    While the stock is simmering, toast and grind your peppersoup spice if making your own. Skip this step if using store- bought ground spice blend.

    Step 6

    Strain out all the vegetable solids and return the stock to the pot. Add in the pepper- soup spice, season with salt, and bring up to a boil over high heat.

    Step 7

     Reduce the heat to low and allow the broth to simmer.

    Step 8

     Return the short ribs to the pot and simmer on low until the meat is fork tender, 30 minutes.

    Step 9

    Divide the soup into bowls. Serve topped with the fresh mint and scent leaves and an        additional sprinkling of the peppersoup spice. You can enjoy this fiery soup by itself or serve alongside steamed white rice, boiled plantains, or slices of Agége Bread (page 115 of the cookbook) if you like.

From My Everyday Lagos: Nigerian Cooking at Home and in the Diaspora @2023 by Yewande Komolafe. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Random House LLC. All Rights Reserved. Order your copy of the book from Now Serving here.


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