Catfish Pepper Soup

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If you want to enjoy a soup that is loaded with flavor and takes lets than 20 minutes to simmer, make this Catfish Pepper Soup! The combination of spices and herbs will have you reach for another spoon, and another…, and another!

A bowl with three steaks of catfish in pepper soup.

Apart from the fact that soups like this are very soothing, they also open up the palate so well! You can serve this soup as an appetizer in smaller quantities or as a main dish with boiled plantains, African white yam, potatoes, or even rice!

Also, check out these recipes for Goat Meat Pepper Soup and Chicken Pepper Soup.

Catfish Pepper Soup

I first had Nigerian Catfish Pepper Soup while visiting a family friend during Thanksgiving. She had a huge amount of soup warming up in the slow cooker and served bowls of her well-curated soup to us as an appetizer. It was hearty, warming, and brothy!

Pepper Soups of different kinds are popular across West and Central Africa. They could be made with chicken, beef, or fish and with varied spices and herbs.

In Nigeria, Catfish Pepper Soup is common and sometimes referred to as point and kill. My version adds a few special ingredients like some Njangsa seeds which adds creaminess, earthiness and more umami to the soup.

Close-up of fish steaks in a broth.

One tomato and some red jalapenos give the soup a desirable bright orange color and add flavor!

Watch How To Make Catfish Pepper Soup

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The Ingredients

Here is everything you need for this hearty soup. Be sure to check out the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the ingredient measurements, and suggestions on where to find specific ingredients.

All ingredients for catfish pepper soup on a white surface.

Some notes on key ingredients:

  • Whole catfish: Whole fish is ideal for pepper soup as the bones add flavor to the soup as it simmers. Visit your local Asian market for whole catfish. Have the fishmonger clean and gut the fish for you to make for a shorter prep time.
  • White pepper: Adds a unique fragrance to pepper soup that is different from black pepper and much better in my opinion. Get whole white pepper and blend together with the spices for the best flavor, But you could use ground white pepper too if that’s all you’ve got.
  • Pepper soup spices: This blend of spices add a unique earthy flavor to pepper soup. You can get pepper soup spices from your local African market. Call them before hand to see if they have some.
Aidan fruit, African black pepper, negro pepper, and African nutmeg on a white plate.
Some spices typically used in pepper soup.

You can also make pepper soup spices at home by blending together the following:

  • African nutmeg or calabash nutmeg (known as pebe or ehuru)
  • Grains of selim or negro pepper (known as uda)
  • African black pepper (different flavor from American black pepper and also known as bush pepper, or uziza seeds)

See the recipe card below with a detailed list of ingredients and instructions.

How To Make Catfish Pepper Soup

With just 4 easy steps, you can make catfish pepper soup:

  1. Wash the catfish with salt and lemon and rinse well. Add the fish to a pot.
  2. Blend garlic, ginger, njangsa, and white pepper and add to the catfish.
  3. Blend peppers, onion and tomato and add to the fish.
  4. Add water and seasoning and simmer until the fish is done.
Landscape photo of Nigerian pepper soup.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Different kind of fish: No catfish, no problem! Use other kinds of fish like red snapper, sea bream, or tilapia for your pepper soup.
  • Less heat: If you cannot tolerate a lot of heat, reduce the habanero to half and omit the jalapenos.
  • Ground Crayfish: Add a tablespoon of crayfish powder for a more earthy flavor. Crayfish is obtainable from African markets. You can blend it dry into a powder.

Expert Tips

  • To firm up the flesh of the catfish and prevent it from falling apart while cooking, add some boiled water to the rinsed catfish. Let it sit in the hot water for five minutes to harden, then drain out the water before proceeding with the recipe.
  • To make pepper soup spices at home, combine the pepper soup spices listed above in a skillet and roast on medium heat for 5 minutes while stirring from time to time. This will help the flavors bloom. Grind the spices into a powder in a coffee grinder or a high-powered blender.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This soup does not freeze well.

Serve catfish pepper soup as it is or with boiled white yams, plantains, or potatoes. So good!

Fish tail in a broth served with African white yam.

More Pepper Soup Recipes

More African Food Recipes

If you make this recipe please leave a star rating below. Your rating helps others find the recipe plus I love hearing from you! Thank you!

A bowl with three steaks of catfish in pepper soup.

Catfish Pepper Soup

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Catfish Steaks in a warm, spicy broth. This fragrant Catfish Pepper Soup makes a great dinner or appetizer.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 4 pounds catfish cleaned, gutted, cut into steaks*
  • 1 lemon for cleaning fish
  • 3 inches fresh ginger root peeled and sliced into quarter-inch slices
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons njangsa seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole white pepper substitute with one teaspoon of ground white pepper
  • 1 medium onion cut into quarters
  • 3 red jalapenos or cayenne pepper optional
  • 1 habanero pepper or scotch bonnet
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 3 SMALL Maggi seasoning cubes 4g cubes**
  • 2 Tablespoons pepper soup spices obtainable from African markets
  • ¼ aidan fruit obtainable from African markets
  • 3 sprigs Thai basil sub with Italian basil
  • Boiled African white yams, plantains, potatoes, or rice for serving.


  • Clean the fish. Add the catfish steaks to a large bowl. Sprinkle on a tablespoon of salt. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the lemon juice all over the fish. Using the lemon halves like a sponge and the salt as an abrasive, scrub the flesh of the catfish steaks to remove any slime. Rinse the fish three times with cool water and add to a large pot.
  • Blend the spices. Add garlic, ginger njangsa seeds, white pepper, and about half a cup of water to a blender. Blend into a smooth paste and add to the pot with the fish.
  • To the same blender, add the onions, peppers and tomatoes with some water, then blend into a coarse blend for some texture. Add the blend to the pot.
  • Add the salt, Maggi seasoning cubes (or bouillon powder, and pepper soup spices. Rinse the blender with about 4 to 6 cups of water and add to the pot. Add the aidan fruit whole.
  • Turn on the heat to high and bring the pot to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-high and let it simmer until the fish is done, about 15 to 20 minutes. To avoid breaking the fish, avoid stirring the pot as it cooks. Instead, lightly shake the pot from side to side and spoon some of the sauce over the fish.
  • Thinly slice the leaves of the Thai basil and add to the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Serve hot with boiled African white yams, plantains, potatoes, or rice.



  • *For easy prep time, have your fishmonger clean and gut the fish for you.
  • **Maggi has salt, so make sure you use small cubes. If you use larger bouillon cubes, you only need one. Substitute the seasoning cubes with 3 teaspoons of chicken or beef bouillon powder.


Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 175mg | Sodium: 1002mg | Potassium: 1223mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 373IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: African, Cameroonian, Nigerian
Calories: 342
Tried this recipe?Mention @preciouscore or tag #PreciousCore!

About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at

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