Okra is an important edible fruit in our kitchens which can be included in many diets, it is often referred to as fruit when not cooked, and vegetable whenever it is steamed or cooked. Okra is an edible green pod containing white edible seeds in parietal placentation which are often eaten by many. Okra can be fried, baked, grilled or stewed and can be prepared into different dishes.
Okra or okra are often used interchangeably, these are still referred to the same vegetable and are known in some countries of the world as ladys fingers or gumbo. Okra is a long greenish pod that resembles a fresh corn husk, it has the shape of a spike, which is why it is or they are often referred to as ladys finger(s).
Okra are easy growing crops which thrive well in well-drained soil and in warm environment; they are usually planted during warm weather and are harvested after 2 months of planting. Okra are often harvested when they are still tender, so that they dont become fibrous and tough, additionally, okra are harvested daily or every after two days, to ensure that they dont become tough and fibrous. There are different varieties of okra; some have smooth skin, while others have tiny spines on the skin. The important thing about okra is that the whole vegetable can be used- the seeds, leaves and the fruits are edible if cooked or steamed. The stalks are always removed before slicing the soft pod, since it is the hardest part of the vegetable and may not be soft enough for consumption. Some varieties of okra are covered with tiny spines while some are spineless. The ones with the tiny spines are also edible; the tiny spines would always disappear after the vegetable is cooked.
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More about okra
Okra has a lot of healthy benefits and functions, and it is widely used for various delicacies both in Africa and in other parts of the world. It might surprise you that okra is eaten as crunchy snacks by the Indians. The lady fingers are often deseeded and seasoned with spices and then fried in vegetable oil until very crispy and crunchy, and they are usually served as snacks in parties or events in India. Sometimes, I do wonder if there was no okra/ ladys fingers, what would have been used as a substitute to draw soups, because okra is a major vegetable used for viscous dishes; however, thank goodness, there are other viscous vegetables like cocoa fruits and ewedu, among other vegetables. I made mention of cocoa; of course, I mean the tender green cocoa pod, it is sometimes used for preparing draw soups among the Ibibios, and it tastes so nice like okra with an earthy aroma, and it is even more viscous than okra, and if you are in doubt, try it out yourself and compare both.
Okra soup is one of Nigerians popular draw soups, it is often prepared with leafy vegetable like uziza, ugwu (fluted pumpkin, spinach and green. There is a popular dish prepared with okra by the Yorubas and its called white okra soup and it is often served together with stew and eba. Other soups in which okra can be prepared with afang soup, ogbono, editan soup, atama soup and withafia efere (Calabar white soup). All the listed soups above can be prepared with okra, but the quantity of okra needed for these soups is always in little amount. That is 1:3, depending on the quantity of soup that it is used for. It is only with editan soupand ogbono soup that okra is used at large quantity because, okra combines with editan and ogbono so well, since the editan leavesand ogbono are viscous too and they donot replace the sweetness of okra.
How to prepare okra soup
Okra soup is a viscous soup prepared with okra as the main ingredients, palm oil, onions, protein and vegetables. It is one of the simplest soups in African, and it is usually accompanied with eba, tuwo, semolina, pounded yam or fufu (starchy bolus). Okra soup can be prepared with just fish (dried, smoked or fresh cat or codfish) and also, it can be prepared with the combination of fish and assorted meat. Okro soup is often prepared with sea foods (shrimp, oyster, clams, periwinkles, crabs). In some places like cross river state and port Harcourt; it is prepared into dish referred to as to as fisherman soup. In my house we usually prepare okra soup with egusi (ground melon seeds) without the addition of palm oil, and it is always delicious and loved by everyone. I noticed that many people dont really like much palm oil, well, that just the opposite of me; I dont mind my okra soup flowing with oil. I dont really have an explanation for that, its just a personal choicehowever, you can add your palm oil to your taste, when making this soup.
Okra soup can be prepared in many ways, such as: the fresh okro soup and dried okra soup. Tough okra are usually cut and sun dried in Nigeria for days and then grindor poundinto powder. This powder is then used for thickening soup and it is used to cook a popular Hausa soup known as miyan busheshen kubewa, which is interpreted as dried okra soup. This is another version of okra soup preferred by the Northern parts of Nigeria.If you are to bring a plate of fresh okra soup and the dried okra soup together and asked to choose the one you prefer most, I dont really think you will be able to choose from them, because they are both unique and distinctive in taste. The fresh okro soup tastes so delicious, dishy and pleasing to the tongue, and the dried okro soup is what I cant even describe and if I am to describe it taste, I will say is awesome, heavenly, yummy, savoury and flavoursome, just to mention a few, and especially when it isprepared with uziza leaves and protein. You may want to prepare each of this in other to differentiate their appealing tastes for yourself. Okra can also be fried like chips and serves as side dish- this is an Indian recipe (Punjabi bhindi fry) which is often prepared by currying fresh okra followed by mixing it with dry masala and other spices like cumin,and then deep friedin vegetable oil to make it crispy. There are so many ways you can prepare okra; the few ways have just been listed above. Feel fry to search for more uses of the fruit and make the best use of it.
Okra soup is a good source complementary feeding for infants that have started the weaning process, but when you are preparing this soup for kids, you dont really need pepper in the soup because it will be harsh for them and will irritate them. Additionally, children generally do not really like to chew vegetables, if you are preparing okra for such kids, you may need to blend or grate the okra to become tinier for the
Ingredients for preparing okra soup
- 250g ladys fingers
- 2 medium sized iced mackerel (fish), cut into medium shapes
- cup ground crayfish
- 4 medium sized smoked catfish
- 200g ganda or kpomo (cow hide), chopped into small sizes
- 1 stockfish head (optional)
- 3 seasoning cubes
- cup ugwu leaves or uziza
- 3 cooking spoon palm oil
- 1 bulb onion
- 1 Small sized okpei or dawadawa (traditional seasoning)
- 3 Scotch bonnet pepper or black pepper flakes
- Salt to taste
Procedures forcooking okra soup with fish
- Wash; season your fish with 2 seasoning cubes, 0nions, pepper and salt. Cook the fish together with kpomo on a medium heat. Fish does not really need a lot of heat. If you are using stock fish add to this and cook.
- While the fish is on heat, wash and chop your ladys fingers (okra) into tiny piece, this is done by cutting across the okra both vertically and horizontally and then into smaller round shapes.
- Wash and chop ugwu or uziza leaves into small shape. This should not be too tiny, since you are not making edikaikong soup; just moderately shredded.
- Wash with salt and debone dried catfish and keep aside, do not add it to the meat yet because, it is softer and can break completely, or get lost in the soup easily.
- Grind crayfish, pepper and okpei and keep aside. The okpie adds some nice flavour to okra soup you can use locust bean it place.
- Check the fish to see if it is cooked. Separate it from the stalk and keep aside
- Bring an empty pot on heat, add some palm oil into it and start frying the chopped onions for about 10 seconds, add the chopped okra into the oil and fry, add one seasoning cubes to it, crayfish and let this fry for about 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, add the fish broth into the okro, and stir. You may need to add more water to the soup, so that it wont look so dry and thick.Okro soup should have moderate liquid in it, to enhance your fingers, especially when dabbing them into the soup with your moulded swallow.
- After adding the water, let the soup simmer for another five minutes for the ingredients to incorporate. At this stage, you will begin seeing some bubbles on the surface of the soup; it shows that the okro is becoming viscous at this point.
- Add your shredded ugwu or uziza leaves and stir. Dont let the soup sit on heat for so long; taste for salt and adjust the necessary seasonings.
- Your okra soup is cooked. Put off heat and serve it with semolina or eba.
Steps on how to prepare okra soup with fish
1. Wash season fish with onions, stock cubes, pepper and salt.Let the fish cook for about 10-15 minutes
2. Wash and cut okra into tiny pieces, cut ugwu and onions into medium shapes and keep aside.
3. Blend crayfish, okpie and also debone dried fish and keep all side.
4. When the fish is cooked, seperate it from the broth, drop a dried pot on heat, add palm oil into it and allow the oil to heat up.
5. Start frying onions for about 10 seconds, then add the chopped okra into the oil and fry also for 5 minutes.
6. After 5 minutes, bring the fish broth into the soup.You would have to add more clean water to the soup; akro soup doen’t need to be too thick and dry.
7. Stir the soup and allow it to simmer on a medium heat. You will begin to notice some bubbles as it’s boils, let it sit on heat for more 5 minutes to enable all the igredients incorporate with the okra
8. Add your shredded ugwu or uziza into the soup, stir to combine. reduce the heat to medium low and leave it to simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Put off heat and scoope into a serving plate.
10. Serve your tasty okra soup with eba or semolina.
Now that was an easy way of preparing okra soup with fish, you can make this with any protein of your choice and feel free to ask question in the comment box below
Dr. Brown is the founder of Jotscroll, he is a Medical Doctor, Entrepreneur, and author. Dr. Razi Brown holds a medical degree from the University of San Diego. He has invested in many startups and is currently working on his fifth book to be published in the upcoming year.