Sue Nipeh, a mother of three in Monrovia, Liberia, has a bountiful backyard garden. Together with her daughter Joycelisa Barrolle and adopted nephews Washington Weedor and Lassana Kromah, Sue harvests the crops—plato leaves and palm nuts, among others—to make into soup. She also shares the crops with her neighbors, “as a way of expressing our love as one people.”
“When you go to your garden and return with crops, those crops shouldn't be for you alone,” Sue says. “You need to give some out. Being an idealist who believes in giving, loving and caring, I share with my neighbours.”
Sharing food and crops is a family affair for Sue, and has been since her childhood. “My siblings and I [tended] gardens with our late grandmom, and so I am doing same with my children.” Today, Washington Weedor tends to the land in the backyard and Lassana Kromah delivers crops to others in the community. Sue and her daughter focus on making soup out of what the boys gather.
Recipe for palaver sauce
- Pick the plato leaves from the stem and wash them clean.
- You then season and boil your meat, dried fishes, crab, etc. Once boiled, set them aside.
- Place the plato leaves in a clean pot and add teaspoons of cooking soda based on the quantity of platos. Stir and blend them in your pot until they are blended and smooth.
- Add the boiled meat ingredients and water.
- Add some seasoning and salt, and boil the ingredients together. After the water goes down to about 85%, add red palm oil and pepper, and let it boil again. Then, your soup is ready.
Recipe for palm butter soup
- Pick the palm nuts from the bunch, wash and boil them.
- Steam your meat or fish, and other ingredients (vegetables, etc.) to add later.
- After the nuts are cooked, remove the water and use a mortar and pestle to get the sauce out.
- Add warm water, stir the mashed palm nuts in a dishpan and sift them a few times to get the watery butter out. Sift them again to remove the stew, and put the watery butter in a pot to boil and cook.
- After the butter starts to boil, add the steamed ingredients. Season and pepper to cook. When the soup begins to boil and thicken, it is ready.
Enjoy both soups with rice and fufu.
The benefits of sharing
“It's good to share because you are giving a part of what you have with others, and that makes the world a better place,” Sue says. “It brings people together. Don't wait until people come and beg, because some people will be in need but will not ask.”
It is this giving attitude that Sue hopes to impart onto her children, and to other youth in her neighborhood. “I have been training young idealists in my community to love one another, to share and respect everyone.”
“As humans, we ought to share,” Sue adds. “Open hands are blessed hands.”