Plain Okro Soup (Ila)
Plain okro soup is different from the one pot okro soup, it is cooked to be accompanied by the versatile Omi Obe (stew). They make an exquisite pair. I first ate plain okro with Omi Obe in the boarding school. At first, it was a shock to me seeing stew and eba (garri fufu) served together, then there was this pool of seemingly uncooked okro right in the middle. Did somebody forget to stir the soup in the pot? Did they forget to add the okro when the soup was being cooked? By the way who serves stew and eba? Coming from the Eastern part of Nigeria, I had only known the one pot Okro soup with green leafy vegetables. Eventually, I ate it and I liked it, even kind of looked forward to it. That was boarding school level plain okro.
Okro is a high-fibre, high anti-oxidant vegetable, also called okra or gumbo. The okro for Plain Okro soup is normally chopped into very small pieces, grated using a grater or food processor. The okro can also be cut into large chunks and pureed with some water using a blender. You can thinly slice your okro if you prefer but it won’t be as mucilaginous as the grated one.
Do not overcook the okro, like I said before Plain Okro soup looks fresh like raw okro, meaning it is well cooked but still has life in it, retaining its green colour. Iru, crayfish and leafy vegetables are optional ingredients. So are dry fish and stockfish, they can be added to the stew.
To prepare Plain Okro soup
450g okro 3 cups water 3g akanwu,potash (thumb nail size) salt 1 seasoning cube
Wash and grate okro using the small size grater.
Pour 3 cups of water in a pot, add akanwu and place over high heat.
Bring to a boil, by this time akanwu would have dissolved.
Add grated okro.
Otherwise, cut into chunks and put in a blender add the 3 cups of water and blend.
Or slice okro.
Pour into the pot of akanwu water.
Cook until okro is tender about 5 minutes.
Take off the heat and using a balloon whisk beat till everything is well mixed and okro is very mucilaginous.
Put the pot back on the fire add a little salt and seasoning cube.
Cook for 2-3 minutes and take off the heat.
Serve Plain Okro soup, Ila with Omi Obe (stew) and Amala, pounded yam or any fufu of your choice.
- You can add a sprinkling of about 1 tablespoon of ground egusi when the okro comes to a boil.
- Iru is also an optional ingredient, add when the okro soup begins to boil.
- Be careful not to overcook okro, it will turn to an unsavoury pale green colour.
- The smaller you chop or grate your okro the slimier or more mucilaginous it will become. If you don’t want too much slime, slice the okro.
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