Okra-Rice Soup

Okra in bowl

A true southern classic, this okra soup was as commonplace in the nineteenth century as it is unusual today. Despite the “throw-everything-into-the-pot” simplicity of the recipe, the result is a wonderfully complex blend of flavors and textures—thanks mainly to the unique character of okra. This thick soup is  closely related to a Creole gumbo.

Serves: 6 to 8

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely diced
  • 5 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 6 medium ripe juicy tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh small okra, stemmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2/3 cup raw brown rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over low heat until translucent. Add the celery and garlic and continue to sauté over low heat until the onions are golden.

Add the broth, followed by the remaining ingredients except the last two. Be aware that even the small amount of red pepper or cayenne given here will produce a distinct spiciness, so use your discretion!

Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked and the vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper and adjust the other seasonings. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more broth, or a bit of water. Serve at once, or let the soup stand for an hour or so, then heat through as needed.

This soup will thicken considerably as it stands. Adjust the consistency if necessary with a bit more stock or water and correct the seasonings, but let it remain very thick.

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4 comments on “Okra-Rice Soup

  1. Jess

    This recipe was my first experience cooking with okra. This recipe was quite tasty. I didn’t use any cayenne, but I did add 1 tsp of chili powder. Some of the larger pieces of the okra were a little stringy, so it’s good to note not to slice any larger than 1/2 inch pieces.

  2. Nava Post author

    Okra really is a tricky vegetable. It’s best to use small, young okra, as larger ones will be tougher, almost like large green beans tend to be. Also smaller okra pods have less of that strange texture that’s so foreign to us Yankees!

  3. d broocks

    Wonderful soup! (but then again, we’re from the South and are familiar with this strange little vegetable). I played around with the spices and added some old bay to make it more like a gumbo. If you really want to get the gumbo feel, add some of the veggie crumbles, they give a very nice texture to the recipe, and my meat-eating friends and family have NO IDEA that they are eating a healthy vegan meal!!!

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