Okro soup, Okra Soup
Okro soup, Okra soup, Lady’s finger or gumbo, this soup by any name will taste mouthwateringly delicious. It is mucilaginous (slimy in a good way), cheap and is cooked across the length and breadth of Nigeria, from the north where dried okro is used, to the south where it is used fresh. Therefore, it can be called one of Nigeria’s national dishes.
My son no. 3 could eat okro soup 3 times a day when he was a toddler, now a young boy, he will always ask for okro soup or the ‘brother’ of okro aka ogbono soup, meanwhile, son no. 2 will neither touch it nor its ‘brother’ with a 10-foot pole. A case of one man’s meat being another man’s poison.
It is easy to eat and tastes fresh. If cooked right, looks very appetizing.
The methods of preparation vary, sometimes even within the same community, some fry their okro, others just add it raw to their soup broth. It can also be cooked separately and served with Nigerian tomato stew.
Another difference is in the way the okro is cut, it can be sliced across into thin or thick discs, the way I like it, chopped or grated into tiny bits or blended to a puree.
The accompanying leafy vegetable is also as varied, the most common being the fluted pumpkin leaf (ugu). You can use Bitterleaf, Uziza leaf, Ewedu or spinach (if using frozen spinach, reduce the amount of liquid in the soup, because the frozen spinach will release its own water, or defrost the frozen spinach and squeeze out the water before adding to the soup, that way you don’t end up with a watery soup).
Whatever your choices, okro soup always turns out finger-licking good once you get the proportions of your ingredients right. It is a fast cooking vegetable soup, the vegetables should not be overcooked, the colour and freshness of the soup are part of what makes it so appealing.
To prepare Okro soup, okra soup:
Meat stockfish dry fish 3/4 cup chopped onions (1 slightly large, divided) 4 scotch-bonnet (fresh pepper, ground) 1/4 cup ground crayfish 8g ogili okpei 3/4 cup palm oil (about 3 cooking spoons) 3 seasoning cubes salt 500g okro 80g ugu leaves
Cut okro to your desired size and set aside.
Wash the meat and stockfish, place in a medium sized pot.
Season with salt, 1 seasoning cube and 1/2 the onions. Add a little water and boil till they are tender.
Soak the dry fish in boiling hot water for 2 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water. Add to the boiling meat.
Add pepper, crayfish, ogili okpei, palmoil, the rest of the onions and seasoning cube to the boiling meat, stir and taste, add salt.
Cook for 15 minutes, then add okro.
After 5 minutes, add ugu, stir and cook for 3 minutes, take off the heat.
- If you like your okro fried, or want to try it out, reserve half of the palm oil, pour into a frying pan, when hot (not bleached),add sliced onions, stir briefly. Add chopped okro and fry for about one minutes. Dump all into your cooking broth. Cook for 5 minutes, then add ugu.
- Grind scotch bonnet (fresh pepper) into large chunks. The red contrasts with the green vegetables to give the soup an appealing look.
Serve with any swallow of your choice, like garri, pounded yam, semovita, oatmeal swallow etc.
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