Nigerian Style Goat Pepper Soup
Goats produce less meat proportionately than a cow or a pig, but they’re also the most widely consumed animal in the world. Butchering into small, bone-in pieces is the most efficient way to portion a whole goat, as well as the most ancient. The whole process can be done with a single knife or cleaver, by anyone. This recipe is a great example of how the bone-in pieces are used, it’s a slightly spicy, comforting goat meat stew, with a cultural use similar to chicken noodle soup in the United States.
You can get the spices at local markets that sell African food, but they’re easy to find online too. There is also lots of pre-made pepper soup spices online, but all the ones I tried were hit and miss and stale from overstocking. The soup tastes better after it sits for a day and the flavors meld.
Since the bone in goat meat pieces can be a combination of cuts from different places on the animal, there will be small pieces of bone. I like to use a spoon and fork combo to pick around the bones. Eating slowly also helps to appreciate things more.
Here’s a little tutorial on how I cook them. It works well with either bone-in goat or lamb meat.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a 15 year veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of Acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Founder of the website Forager Chef, he’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at Forager Chef.
Pepper soup spices
6-8 calabash nutmeg, peeled
8 pieces negro pepper
1 tablespoon grains of paradise/alligator pepper
1 lb bone in goat meat
1 large yellow onion, diced ½ inch
1 teaspoon habanero pepper, or more to taste, seeds removed, diced small
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried uziza leaves, crumbled (1 tablespoon of additional ginger can be substituted)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
½ cup flavorless oil
1 large white sweet potato, or yam (about 8 oz)
1 teaspoon mild paprika
5 cups meat stock, or water
Fresh torn basil, for serving.
- Season the goat meat with the teaspoon of salt, then set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Toast the spices, then grind to a powder in a coffee of spice grinder and reserve.
- Heat a ¼ cup of the oil in a dutch oven or casserole, then brown the goat pieces. Remove the goat pieces, discard the oil, then add the remaining oil, garlic, diced peppers and ginger and cook for a few minutes. Add the onion, paprika and spices and cook for a few minutes more, stirring here and there.
- Add the goat meat back to the pan with the stock and crumbled uziza leaves, then bring to a simmer and cook for 1.5-2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender, but not overcooked and falling apart.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large 1 inch pieces, then add to the soup and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Double check the seasoning for salt, adjust as needed, then cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
- When the soup is chilled, all of the fat from the goat will have risen to the top, use a spoon to remove and discard, or you can skim the fat from the soup while it’s cooking if you want to serve it right when it’s done.
- Garnish each bowl of goat meat stew with a few shreds of basil, then serve.
Video by Repast Studios