Clap it up for okra!
Okra soup is one of the most popular Nigerian soups. Most of the ethnic groups we have in Nigeria have a thing for okra. In other words, it isn’t a kind of soup reserved for one particular ethnic group. I grow up eating okra, and I loved it. As a kid, sometimes my mother will cook okra and ogbono together, and for today’s recipe, I am recreating my mother’s okra and ogbono soup recipe. Okra is generally the best Nigerian soup that most Nigerian parents use to start their kids on the part to eating traditional Nigerian soup and swallow.
Swallow is a process of eating soup with some paste. Usually, this paste such as (pounded yam or yam flour, garri, akpu or cassava flour, and oat fufu) is dipped into the soup and then swallowed. Additionally, okra and ogbono soup are natural to eat and likewise gentle with the tummy.
Soup = Superb in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, is not unusual to see different kinds of meat inside a pot of soup; for instance, a bowl of okra soup may consist of beef, beef tripe, oxtail, cow feet, goat meat, fresh fish, dry fish, smoked fish, and so on. The list is endless; I guess we cook extraordinarily and we derive joy in doing so. So for this very soup, I will be adding and using different parts of meat. Skip the meat if you are vegetarian, and I encourage you to swap the meat to your preference if you do not like a particular part of the meat that I will be using today. And if you particularly prefer light and lovely recipes, I got you😊
Celebrate your okra creations.
Okra is full of high-quality fiber, which aids in digestion and can stop constipation. Okra is an excellent source of protein; who would have thought!? Click To Tweet
Low in fat and sodium, therefore it can help you improve your cholesterol health. Ogbono at the same time is a dry seed of edible fruit popularly eaten in Nigerian. If you haven’t noticed, most Nigerian soups require thickeners, which are usually seeds ( mostly in ground form). In case of this soup, alongside frozen okra I will also use ogbono; it will help the thickening process. Okra and ogbono combo are a match made in food heaven; it combines the freshness of okra and on the other hand the magic-ness of dry ground ogbono seeds. Both tend to draw very well; when used together produces one of the best soups from Nigeria.
Okra Memories wouldn't go away.
As a kid, we would eat okra with anything, like anything. Sometimes at my house, we would eat okra with rice or yam. In reality, it is naturally eaten with cassava flour, pounded yam or yam flour, garri or oat fufu. In other words do not be afraid to celebrate your okra creations. Own it, make and eat it your way!
Okra and Ogbono here we come:
This soup is generally served with Fufu (cassava flour, yam flour, garri or oat-fufu). In the photo above okra and ogbono soup is served with oat-fufu.
- 2 lbs. of beef (or more/less)
- 1 lb. of goat meat
- 2 lbs. of cow feet
- Dry fish; wash and set aside (about 1 lb. or less)
- One big bulb of onions (quartered; use for cooking meat)
- 2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon salt (for cooking the meat; the amount of salt you use will depend mainly on the amount of meat and your taste)
- 2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon seasoning powder or 4 seasoning cubes (for cooking the meat)
- 7 cups of broth (or more/less) from all the meat
- 4 (12oz) bags of frozen okra (roughly blend with a blender).
- 1 (12oz) bag of frozen spinach (you can thaw or use from frozen)
- 2 table spoons of Lante leaves (optional)
- ½ teaspoon Nigerian red pepper
- ¼ cup of palm oil
- 3 tablespoons – ¼ cup of ground Ogbono
- 2 tablespoons - ¼ cup of ground crayfish
- 1 additional seasoning cube and 1-teaspoon salt (optional and depending on quantity and taste)
- 1 big bell pepper (optional; use to blend the okra)
- Set a clean pot on the stove, add the meat to a clean pot and add quartered onions, salt, seasoning cubes or powder. Then add water until it is well over the meat. Set the pot on the stove to medium to high heat, cover, and cook until tender; separate meat from broth, and set aside.
- Bring out okra from fridge hours before soup preparation and allow to thaw; then use a clean blender and roughly blend the okra about 3 – 4 (5 second) pauses. Add some bell peppers alongside okra and repeat the process until all the okra is blended. Set aside.
- Set a clean pot on the stove and set your stove on low – medium. As soon as the pot warms up add palm oil, allow the palm to heat up just a little bit, and then add ground Ogbono and continue to stir. Keep stirring gently up to the 1-2 minutes to dissolve all the Ogbono into the oil. Then gently add the broth (every liquid from cooking the entire meat.) Then stir in fish, and crayfish, mix well into the soup, cover the pot and allow to cook for about 8 – 10 minutes, this enables the fish to cook a bit prior to adding the already precooked meats. Stir in between to avoid burning.
- After the said time (when the soup starts to really simmer), add the meat, crush in one seasoning cube or 1 teaspoon seasoning powder, followed by the ground red pepper, stir very well and allow to cook for about 2 minutes, then add washed Lante leaves. Cover the pot and cook for about 8 – 10 minutes, add little water in between this time if necessary.
- After the set time gently stir in the okra, ensure to distribute it well with a spoon. Then cover the pot and continue to cook for about 15 – 20 minutes. This cook time also depends on the quantity of the okra. If you are using the same amount in this recipe, then it will take about that time (that’s what it takes me.) Stir the pot within intervals of 3-5 minutes to ensure that the soup is cooking evenly and avoid burning of any sort.
- After 15 minutes or so it will be time to add the spinach. Stir in the spinach (I would usually squeeze water out of the spinach before adding if it is thawed.) Use the cooking spoon to ensure the okra is well distributed. By this time your soup is looking yum, feel free to taste it and add additional salt and seasoning if desired. Allow everything to simmer for another 3 – 4 minutes, and your yummy okra and Ogbono soup is ready! Serve with fufu, Garri pounded yam or oat fufu or just eat a bowl by itself.
Do not let the meat listed above scare or stop you; remember, you are in charge of the amount of meat you may decide to use. You can add more or less (sometimes less is better). For instance, I have used just beef, chicken breast, and dry fish and everything worked out fine, and the soup was spot on and delicious. I generally use Kuta or Kuni dry/smoked fish for the majority of my Nigerian soups. You can also make this soup vegetarian by cooking it with no meat or fish and substituting with mushrooms instead.
Sometimes I do prefer to cook certain the meats separate, and this depend on the type of meat, for instance, I would typically cook goat meat separate from the cow feet because the cow feet takes the longest to cook. But if I were using beef and chicken breast I would usually cook them in the same pot but add them at different times. For instance I will start cooking the beef first and after 30 – 35 minutes add the chicken breast, and then turn off the stove when the chicken breast is fully cooked. Alternatively, you can add all the meat together into the pot from the start, however, be aware of cooking time of each of the meat (for example, goat, beef and other meats may cook faster than the cow feet. Remove them as soon as they are tender. If you are cooking the meats separate, remember to distribute the onions, salt, and seasoning among the meats.
Add extra time to cooking the cow feet; it takes about 2-3 hours to make them tender unless you are using a pressure cooker. As you cook the cow feet the water will continue to decrease, keep adding water as you go. You will need this water as it becomes the base for the soup.
You may need additional salt or seasoning cubes/powder if you are using low sodium or non-sodium broth or plain water. Also, taste the soup as you go along to make sure it is coming along well.
Cook this soup on medium to avoid burning or sticking to the pot.
Do you eat okra soup? How do you make them? Please share with me in the comment.
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