This Nigerian okro soup is quick and easy to put together; it's a healthier, low-calorie option from the traditional African okra soup. It's Perfect for lunch or dinner. The best part? it's ready in 30 minutes!
What is Okra?
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is known as ladies' fingers or ochro in most English-speaking countries. bhindi in India, Gumbo in France, and quimbombó in Pueto rico.
Okra is packed with vitamins, potassium, iron, magnesium, and folic acid and is rich in fiber. When harvested, the green pods are used as a thickener in soup and stews or as a vegetable in salads.
Reasons to love this Okro Soup recipe
- It's easy and versatile.
- It is quick to put together. In 30 minutes or less, you can also serve this for lunch or dinner.
- It's nostalgic. Every time I make this dish, It brings back childhood memories, like these classic Nigerian Meat pie, Nkwobi, and Jollof rice recipes.
- It's healthier than the traditional okra soup, which uses palm oil.
- Spend half the time making this dish by cooking the protein ahead of time (if using animal protein)
Okra soup was one of my favorite soups growing up. My mum would make it with an arm full of green vegetables and an array of animal proteins. It's a fun memory that I've come to appreciate.
Here are some okro soup ingredients you'll need to make this dish:
- Okra: Fresh or frozen works for this recipe. You can find frozen okra in the frozen section of most grocery stores.
- Animal Protein: I used shrimp, dried catfish, and smoked mackerel. Please see the substitutes below.
- Crayfish: this is sun-dried shrimp that is used in most Nigerian dishes. It adds so much flavor to this okra stew and shouldn't be substituted. Here is a link to grab yours.
- Greens: I used fresh kale for this dish. Other great substitutes are spinach, amaranth, Kale, or any green vegetable. Feel free to omit the greens if you don't have them handy.
- Stock: beef, chicken, vegetable stock, or broth. Even better, use the leftover stock from the cooked meat.
- Seasoning: habanero peppers and ground black pepper. Seasoning cube is optional, but it adds a great flavor to the dish since there isn't much time to build flavor.
Animal protein: Instead of a seafood version, you can make one with assorted meats. Examples are beef, goat meat, oxtail, tripe, kpomo, snail, chicken, or stockfish, etc.
Greens: I’ve used a combination of green vegetables for this dish. E.g., fresh ugu (pumpkin leaves), amaranth, spinach, Bok choy e.t.c
Okro pepper soup is a tasty variation of this dish. Adding pepper soup seasoning adds so much depth and flavor. Reduce the amount of habanero as the pepper soup spice packs some heat.
Here is how to make okra soup:
Step 1: Divide the okra in half. Place one-half in the food processor. Add the habanero, onion, and fresh ginger. Give it a few pulses until it reaches your desired consistency. Set aside
Step 2: Finely chop the other half. Set it aside for later.
Step 3: Bring broth to a boil on medium heat. Add the dried catfish, cook uncovered, then remove the fish. Pull apart the head of the fish and remove any bones, leaving only the part with flesh.
Step 4: Add the okra from the food processor, shrimp, crayfish, and seasoning cube into the pot with broth and cook uncovered.
Step 5: Add the cleaned dry fish and chopped bell peppers. Cook for a few minutes.
Step 6: Add the sliced okra with chopped kale, and stir to combine. Cook for a minute.
- Rinse the dried catfish with tap water and sprinkle salt all over; give it another rinse before adding it to the pot with broth/stock. This will remove any dirt trapped on the outer part of the fish.
- Don’t overcook the greens and okra, as this would change the color of the soup. Cook for 2-3 minutes and remove the pot from the heat. No worries, the vegetables will soften using the residual heat from the pot.
- If you like the slimy consistency of okro, do not cover the pot completely once you’ve added the okro. Covering the pot will halt the mucilaginous texture.
- If using frozen okra, pulse half in the food processor and use the other half as is.
- Beef or chicken can be used as well for this okra stew. Cook the meat using this method, then proceed to step 4.
- Cut down prep time by using a food processor to chop the vegetables.
What to pair with the stew
This Nigerian vegetable stew can be paired with the following dough balls:
- Eba (fermented Yucca roots)
- Pounded yam
- cabbage fufu
- Plantain fufu
If you are like me and seldom “swallow,” you can enjoy the bowl of soup without the extra carbs.
I made this recipe for a vegan family friend with only mushrooms, which was to die for... So, go crazy with it or subtle; either way, your taste bud will pulsate with excitement once you see the outcome.
Adding baking soda into a pot of okra soup halfway into cooking will yield a mucilaginous (drawy) texture. This might change the color of the soup slightly into gray, but there is no aftertaste. Adding green vegetables will offset this.
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is known as ladies' fingers or ochro in most English-speaking countries. In places like France, it is known as gumbo, whereas in most African countries, it’s called okro. It is the same.
The origin of okra is still unknown; some say it originated from Ethiopia, others claim it’s from West Africa, and in recent years, it's believed to have originated from South Asia. Whatever the origin, we can all agree that okra is one of summer's finest vegetables that can be enjoyed in various ways.
To achieve a drawy or mucilaginous texture, it’s vital to either pulse the fresh okra in a food processor or slice it very thin. Another method that comes in handy is adding baking soda to the pot of soup. This will form a lightly foamy bubble, so add it gently.
Not a fan of mucilaginous okra? Add an acidic agent to the pot of soup to reduce the slime. Acidic agents like lemon juice, lime juice, or white vinegar. Although these can help reduce the slime, they’ll alter the dish's taste if the recipe doesn’t call for it. To be safe, soak the fresh okra in a bowl with white vinegar and water for about 30 minutes before cooking with it.
More Nigerian Dishes to try
If you made this Nutritious Oil-less Nigerian okro soup, share a spoon with us on our social media using the hashtag worldlytreat (#worldlytreat), we'd love to join the soirée. Also, don't forget to pin it for later. Chat soon?
How do you enjoy okra in your native delicacy? Is this new to you? What do you like to pair it with? Let's chat in the comments below.
PEACE & LOVE
NIgerian Okro Soup
- Non-stick pot
- 4 cups broth chicken or vegetable stock is fine
- 1 large dried catfish thoroughly rinsed (optional)
- 24 . oz fresh Okra rinsed ( or frozen okra)
- 1 small purple onion quartered
- 1 large habanero or 2 chili peppers
- 1 thumb sized Fresh ginger about 1”, skin removed
- ⅓ cup ground crayfish
- 6 oz raw shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 seasoning cube (Knorr or Maggi) optional
- 6 oz fresh kale or spinach
rinsed and chopped
- Salt to taste
- 1 whole smoked mackerel any animal protein works. About 12. oz
- Step 1: Divide the okra in half. Place one-half in the food processor. Add the habanero, onion, and fresh ginger. Give it a few pulses until it reaches your desired consistency. Set aside
- Step 2: Finely chop the other half. Set it aside for later. Slice off the stem end of the pod, then cut down the center lengthwise. Do that twice. Then cut thin slices crosswise.
- Step 3: Add the stock into a non-stick pot or saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-high heat (about 10 mins). Add the dried catfish, and cook for 5 minutes uncovered. Remove the fish from the pot and set it over a wide plate. Once cooled, pull apart the head of the fish and remove any bones leaving only the part with flesh. Set it aside.
- Step 4: Reduce the heat to medium. Add the okra from the food processor, shrimp, crayfish, and seasoning cube into the pot with broth. Stir to combine and cook for 5 mins, uncovered.
- Step 5: Add the cleaned dry fish and chopped bell peppers. Cook for about 3 minutes.
- Step 6: Add the sliced okra with chopped kale, and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Step 7: Add the smoked mackerel, and fold in the okra soup in a circular motion, so the fish remains whole. Cook for a minute or so. ( or cut the fish however you like)Remove from heat. Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls and serve with fufu, pounded yam, kenkey, semolina, eba (garri), or any swallow of choice.
- Prep the ingredients before cooking, as the soup will cook fast.
- Don’t overcook the greens and okra, as this would change the color of the greens.
- If you like the slimy consistency of okro soup, do not cover the pot entirely once you’ve added the okro. Covering the pot will halt the mucilaginous texture.