Happy Friday my fellow food fam! Don't you love this time of the week, where you get to put your feet up and enjoy the weekend? I know I do! Before we begin the weekend, I thought I'd share one of my favorite African delicacy that I grew up with.
First, this okro soup is not just quick and easy to put together, it's a healthier low-calorie option from the traditional West African okro soup. Okra is packed with vitamins, potassium, iron, magnesium, folic acid, and are rich in fiber.
The origin of okra is still unknown; some say it originated from Ethiopia, others claim it’s from West Africa, 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.
WAYS TO USE OKRA IN DISHES
Okra can be used in several ways.
- Sautéed- it can be sautéed in a mixture of tomatoes, onion, and peppers. This is served with rice and cornmeal.
- Grilled or roasted
Okra soup was one of my favorite soups growing up. My mum would make it using an arm full of green vegetables and an array of meat protein. It's a fun memory that I've come to appreciate. As weird as it may sound to people from various parts of the world, most indigenous people from West Africa love this soup for its mucilaginous texture when it's prepared correctly.
Today, I will be sharing a healthier version of okro soup. This bowl of deliciousness is the oil-free method. No palm oil needed. In 20 minutes or less, you too can be serving this for lunch or dinner.
• I usually use fresh Okra for this dish, but if you cannot get your hands on the fresh vegetable, use pre-packed chopped frozen okra. You can find this in the frozen section of most grocery stores. If you are using fresh okra, cut it into big chunks and pulse it three to five times in the food processor. This will save you a sufficient amount of prep time. I find this one here pretty helpful.
• If you are not a fan of the mucilaginous texture of okra, you can prevent it by covering your pot while the okra steams. However, if you are about that “drawy” texture, then keep on reading.
THE SECRET TO GETTING A MUCILAGINOUS (Drawy) OKRO SOUP
Some people struggle with getting a mucilaginous texture when they prepare okro soup. It's even harder for those of us in the diaspora who cannot get our hands on the secret ingredients they use back home (akaun/potash). After several pots of failed attempt to get the said texture, I decided to start experimenting.
Do you know that baking soda is so beneficial in many ways aside from its regular use for cleaning and baking? Yes, I bet baking soda could heal a broken heart or turn water into wine. Seriously, what can it not do?
Add a teaspoon of baking soda into the pot of soup midway into cook time, and you are good to go. Something to note while cooking; You want to make sure your pot of soup isn't filled to the top because adding baking soda will form a foamy bubble. So, it's crucial you add it slowly.
No aftertaste whatsoever! Adding baking soda might slightly change the color of the soup into a pale grey color. Nothing to be alarmed of, adding the green vegetable will offset this. Honestly, I barely notice it whenever I make this dish, and I mean two to three times a month for the past eight years or so. One final note, do not cover the pot as this might make the content spill over.
The best part about this soup is how versatile it is. Feel free to combine whatever protein you choose. I do a combination of catfish or tilapia and shrimp. It's life changing, I tell you! You can omit using protein if you wish. I made this recipe for a vegan family friend with solely mushroom, and it was to die for... So, go crazy with it or subtle, either way, your taste bud will be pulsating with excitement once you see the outcome. Also, I used baby Bok Choy to add more nutritiousness to the dish. You can use spinach, greens, Kale or any green vegetable of choice. Feel free to omit the greens if you don't feel like it.
Usually, this soup is paired with garri (fermented Yucca roots), pounded yam, amala, cornmeal, wheat, cabbage fufu, plantain fufu, the list is endless. But, if you are like me and you seldom “swallow,” you can enjoy a bowl by itself without the extra carbs.
There you have it! Nutritious Oil-less okro soup. 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.
Happy eating! If you'd love to try another Nigerian sauce, check out this one here, it's packed with spinach and kale, did I hear you say nutrient overload?
Do you have a friend or family member who have been craving a healthier option of okro soup? Do you have an adventurous taste bud and would like to try this? Go ahead and share this post or pin it for later.
Have a pleasant weekend! Talk to you soon, Laterz!
Nutritious Oil-Free Okro/Okra Soup
- 3 Lbs Okra, fresh or frozen
- 2 chili peppers
- 5 heads baby bok choy, rinsed and chopped
- 2 cups beef stock (chicken or vegetable broth is fine)
- 1.5 lbs cooked protein
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 sweet peppers, chopped
- 1 seasoning cube (Knorr or Maggi)
- 2 Tablespoons dry crayfish
- 1 Teaspoon baking soda
- Salt to taste
- Rinse and Cut the okra into huge chunks. Put the okro and chili pepper into the food processor bowl and pulse 3 to five times or until you reach desired texture.
- Rinse and chop the bok choy, set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring the beef stock to a boil on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the cooked protein, onion, and chopped peppers, allow to cook for 4 minutes. Add the seasoning cube, crayfish, salt, and baking soda. Cook for 1 minute. Add the okra and bok choy, stir vigorously to combine. Adjust taste, and cook on medium low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve with any swallow of choice.
- ** While adding the baking soda, do it gently because it will form a light foamy bubble. DO NOT cover the pot at this point.