I became a member of the Okro haters association from childhood. There was nothing Big Mummy did not try in her bid to get me to like this soup. She talked, cajoled and even forced me, it did not work. In fact, every time I was forced to eat Okro soup, I ended up in bed with a stomach ache. She also tried different methods of cooking the soup, when all failed, she decided to leave me alone. But not without making sure I learnt how to cook the soup in case I ended up with a husband who loved it.
In February, last year, my sister and I visited an old family friend. She’s a dear old lady who we hadn’t seen in years. She was super excited to see us; she insisted on serving us the vegetable soup she had just finished making. I assumed the vegetable soup she meant was Afang or Edikang Ikong. You can imagine my horror when the soup arrived and it was okro. Soup wey I never chop since primary school. As I opened my mouth to protest, my sister, anticipating my reaction, pinched me. I looked up to find Mama beaming with smiles as she proudly announced that we would love the soup. Left with no choice, I swallowed my protest and decided to eat the soup and endure the belly ache that would come with it. Would you believe it? There was no stomach ache afterwards. Was it my lucky day? I wondered, or have I outgrown the peculiar sickness? The only way to find out was to try. A week later, I prepared and ate Okro soup. With no sign of a belly ache, I claimed the healing. I have been eating okro soup ever since.
There are two methods of preparing okro soup. The first is a mix of okro and ogbono. The second, which is my style for today, is prepared like most vegetable soups, without ogbono. Ugu and uziza are also the two vegetables used in making this soup. I used uziza for this recipe; I love the flavour it gives to my soup.
½ kilo of beef
4 medium-sized kpomo
1 medium-sized dry fish
A small bunch of uziza leaves
Locust bean (optional)
One cooking spoon of palm oil
½ cup of ground crayfish
1 medium-sized onion
How to Cook
Rinse the okro to remove sand. Dice or grate it into tiny pieces.
Blend the crayfish, onions and locust bean. Rinse and slice the uziza leaves and set aside.
Rinse the meat, kpomo and stock fish to remove dirt. Use salt and lukewarm water to rinse the dry fish. Season the stockfish, kpomo and meat with seasoning cube, onions and salt and cook. Dry fish usually disintegrates in time so it’s best to add it when the meat is almost ready. After adding dry fish to the meat stock, add a little more water to the pot of meat.
Add palm oil and the blended ingredients to the pot. Also, add seasoning cubes and salt to taste.
Cover the pot and allow the content to simmer for about ten minutes. Stir in the chopped okro and uziza leaves. Cook for about five minutes and turn off the heat.
The okro soup is ready and can be enjoyed with eba, semo, fufu or wheat.
Featured image source: foodie-varsity.net