I was in recipe name limbo. I could not decide if I want to call this recipe okro soup, okra sauce, okro stew or palmoil okro or okro soup Sierra Leonean style. Like serious name limbo and not much of an answer after three days.
Thing is, at home in Sierra Leone, when we say okro, this is what we mean. No sauce, soup, stew or anything attached. We just know. Decided to go with okro soup in the end just because I had to think of something.
Okro soup tends to have a bit of a marmite like reaction in people. People either love it or hate it. Me, I absofreakinglutely love it and will happily spend a week eating nothing but this for breakfast, lunch and super.
Okro is best served with some rice, fufu and in a bread sandwich. Bread sandwich I hear you ask? Yes it really, really does go well in a hot bread sandwich.
A word about okro
Okro is also know as okra, lady fingers, ngombo and gumbo. You can find It fresh in ethnic markets, and in the vegetable section of large supermarkets. You can also find it in the frozen section of ethnic supermarkets
When choosing okra to cook with, it is important to choose the smaller younger okro as these are easier to slice and of course cook much quicker. Older tougher okra would work too but will take longer to cook.
How to cook okro soup
This recipe I give here is for how to cook okro soup Sierra Leone style. At the bare minimum, you will need
Dried fish or cray fish
Bicarbonate of soda to get the right texture for the soup
As you can see I have added a few extra bits to my recipe as these are what I like and grew up cooking with. Beef is really good in this recipe but you can make it without, just add a little extra dried fish plus you can add some fresh shrimps toward the end of cooking.
My biggest tip is to add aubergine puree to the soup base. This not only adds a good flavour but it adds thickness to the okro soup as well.
Make sure to cut the okra into very thin rounds as these cook quicker, discard the stalks and the ends.
Although the okro stew takes a bit of time to cook, most of it is just it simmering away and you are free to do other things whilst cooking this. I tend to cook my African food in huge batches. I will spend one day a month and cook 3 to 4 times the quantities I give here and freeze them. Pretty much gives me a load of quick African weeknight suppers whenever I need them. Awesome, right?
One of the things I miss is the communal eating that use to happen in the late afternoon sunshine. Where we transferred an impressive amount of rice into huge ‘bafpans’, at least 100 cm in diameter, top it with okra plasas, sit round crossed legged, catch up on the day’s events and eat.
I really, really, really miss that. I wonder what my kids would say if I try and get some communal eating here. I might just try it with the next batch of okro soup so watch this space.
So, here is how to make this okro soup. Please do try it and if you do make it, then please do tag #recipesfromapantry on Instagram or twitter so that I can pop over and have a look. It is really, really awesome for me when you make any one of my recipes.
Thank you for reading my okro soup recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.
West African flavours – is the spot on my blog where I share both traditional Sierra Leonean recipes and West African fusion recipes.
- 450 g (1lb) of boneless beef chopped into bite sized cubes
- 1 small onion thinly sliced
- ¼ tsp crumbled stock cube
- 100 ml (0.4 cup) water
- 2 onions peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 large aubergines peeled and roughly chopped
- Scotch bonnet to taste
- 4 tbsp dried fish flakes
- 300 ml (1.25 cup) palm oil
- 550 g (1.2lb) small okra wash, dried, thinly sliced and stalks discarded
- 0.25 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 1 stock cube crumbled
- Add the meat, onion, stock cube, salt and water into pot over medium heat, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 mins or until cooked through. Cover the meat and set aside. Save the cooking liquid as you will add that to the okra sauce.
- While the meat is cooking, start on the rest of the okra sauce.
- Add the onions aubergines and chilli along with 75mls of water into a blender and whiz until these form a paste.
Transfer this paste, the fish flakes and palm oil into a large pot over medium heat, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 mins stirring occasionally. Then add in the reserved water from the meat and mix.
- Add the sliced okra and the bicarbonate of soda but do not stir this. Cover and cook for 15 mins.
Then add in the stock cube and stir the okra sauce and cover and cook for another 40-50 mins or until cooked through.
5-10 mins before the end add in the cooked meat and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve the okra sauce with some rice and chillis on the side.
I use maggi stock cube for this. Gluten-free.
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