As the year is coming to a close, I decided to try my hand at okra soup for the first time in my life. I’ve eaten it all my life, but I finally decided to try and make it myself. My grandmother has always made it for me and the deliciousness of it always made me afraid to try and make it, thinking that somehow I would mess it up. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as daunting a task as I assumed.
I’m southern and I assume this is a southern dish, and in my family we consider it to be comfort food. I’m not necessarily in need of comfort and it isn’t really cold here in Charleston right now, but… well… I don’t think excuse are needed when it comes to okra soup. This recipe has passed (as far as I know) from my grandmother to my mother and then to me. I, of course, always have to do something extra to a recipe to make it my own… I’m not even sure why… Fortunately, it turned out GREAT, and even my grandmother gave her approval. If you remake family recipes like I have found myself doing lately, you know that when the family matriarch (or patriarch) gives their thumbs up, you can say that you’ve done something right!
The recipe is simple: tomatoes, tomato sauce, butter beans, onions, and okra, and my mom and grandmother usually add in beef short ribs at the end. This is one of the ways that my recipe differs from theirs. My mom said to cook the beans in one pot, cook the okra in another pot, cook the tomatoes and sauce in another pot, and cook the meat in another pot and then add them all together. Well, that was just too many damn pots for me; I’m more of a one pot kinda chick ‘cus washing dishes just ain’t my thing. I understand that this is a traditional dish and they have their way of preparing it, but if I can come to the same – or better – end without all the carrying on, why not?
I don’t care all that much for salt (it doesn’t like me very much either), but I did heavily season my short ribs with pepper, onion and garlic powders and allowed them to marinate for about six hours before pan searing in olive oil. After removing the meat from the pan, I added in butter to help pull, and onions and then adding in the tomatoes and sauce to allow the flavors to marry. Because I use frozen beans and okra, I allowed them to thaw in the fridge and then added them to the pot as well. Because I wanted more of a soup and not a thick gumbo, I thinned it out a bit with chicken broth instead of the water that my grandmother suggested in order to give it more flavor.
Viola! One pot okra soup! I know my mom thought I was crazy for this one, but I had to do it, and it’s so delicious! Serve hot as a soup or over cooked rice.