Okra soup is eaten all over the world. The difference is the mood of preparation. This is why there are many variations of the soup.
If you’re an adventurous person who is well travelled, you might be overwhelmed by these variations. Fortunately, most of the countries that eat okra still call the vegetable ‘okra’. However, the vegetable is fondly called “lady’s finger” because of its unique shape.
For clarity’s sake, it’s important to note that the okra soup recipe that will be shared in this article is used in the preparation of Nigerian okra soup. You’ll also learn how to prepare a delicious pot of okra soup.
However, before we talk about the okra soup recipe let’s briefly talk about the history of the plant and its nutritional benefits.
What is Okra?
Okra is an edible flowering plant. Although it’s biologically considered a fruit. Interestingly, okra is also a seed pod that encloses tiny white seeds. Its unique shape has earned it the nickname “lady’s finger.”
It grows very well in the tropics because of the warm climate of those areas. It isn’t a plant that can stand cold weather. It’s mostly found on the African continent and some parts of South Asia.
Although okra is popularly known to be green, it’s important to note that okra comes in two colours: red and green.
The colours might be different but the taste remains the same. However, the red okra turns green when cooked.
Okra is generally used for cooking in Nigeria. Its thick and slimy nature is the reason it’s classified as a draw soup. To those who do not know what draw soups are: a category of soups that have a slimy texture.
The slimy nature of okra soup is one of the many reasons people are uncomfortable eating it. Some people stay away from the soup entirely because of its slimy nature. However, don’t be deterred. A properly cooked okra soup is both delicious and nutrient-filled.
It’s time to go over the nutritious benefits of okra.
6 Nutritional Benefits of Okra
Okra is an edible flowering plant that is both delicious and highly nutritious. It has a very impressive nutritious content. It has been scientifically proven that on average, 100g of raw okra contains:
- Calories: 36g
- Carbohydrates: 5g
- Protein: 4g
- Fat: 0g
- Fibre: 4g
- Magnesium: 14% of the Daily value
- Folate: 18% of the Daily value
- Vitamin A: 16% of the Daily value
- Vitamin C: 29% of the Daily value
- Vitamin K: 30% of the Daily value
- Vitamin B6: 16% of the Daily value
Okra has an impressively high Vitamin C and K content. Vitamin C in okra helps to boost the immune system, while vitamin K helps to improve the rate of blood clotting.
Its protein content is one of the reasons why okra is unique; many vegetables lack protein content. Protein helps to improve bone structure and repair body muscles, it also helps to control weight gain, and keep the blood sugar within a healthy range.
Also, its low caloric and carbohydrate content is impressive for a vegetable.
It Has a Rich Antioxidant Content
This is such a big deal because the body needs antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from cell and tissue damage caused by oxidative reactions. These reactions occur due to the presence of free radicals. These radicals react with the biological molecules and cause adverse effects.
Okra is packed with a boatload of beneficial antioxidants. Most of the antioxidants in okra are polyphenols. The main polyphenols include flavonoids and isoquercetin.
Current scientific research has shown that polyphenols improve heart health. It achieves this by reducing the risk of blood clotting, oxidative damage, and other heart-related diseases
Polyphenols are beneficial to the brain as they’re seen to protect the brain from inflammation. They’re also suspected to protect the brain from age-related cognitive declines such as difficulties in learning, difficulties in thinking, speech impairment, and overall slowness.
The antioxidant content in okra generally protects the body from serious health complications.
It Reduces the Risk Of Heart-Related Diseases
Bad cholesterol increases the risk of heart-related disease. Scientific studies have confirmed that high cholesterol levels are associated with heart disease. Okro contains mucilage. This gel-like substance binds to cholesterol during digestion.
This ensures that cholesterol is passed out in the faeces rather than being absorbed by the body. The polyphenol content in okra protects the body from inflammation and general heart diseases like stroke and heart attack.
It Prevents Cancer
Okra is rich in protein. One of the notable proteins in okra is lectin. Scientific study has shown that lectin prevents the growth of human cancer cells and in its treatment. A test-tube study found that lectin prevents the formation of breast cancer cells by 63%.
Another study showed that lectin in okra extract killed metastatic melanoma cells in mice.
Although these studies have given promising results, more human studies need to be done to confirm the effect of lectin on cancerous cells.
It Prevent Diabetes
When the fasting blood sugar level is above 125mg/dL, a person is said to have full-blown diabetes. To avoid this from happening, the blood glucose level should be kept below 100mg/dL. When the blood glucose level is constantly on the high side, a person is predisposed to prediabetes and diabetes type 2.
A mouse study showed that okra helps to decrease blood glucose levels. Another study carried out on rats showed that okra extracts helped to prevent a spike in blood glucose levels.
It’s believed that okra prevents the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract.
Okra interacts with some diabetic medications most notably metformin. So, it’s not advisable to eat okra whilst taking diabetic drugs.
Beneficial for Pregnancy
Folate (Vitamin B9) reduces the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy. A neural tube defect affects the brain and spinal of a developing fetus. This is why folate is recommended during pregnancy. It’s recommended that 400mcg is consumed every day during pregnancy to protect the fetal brain and spine.
Okra is a rich source of folate. On average, 100g of okra provides 15-20% of a pregnant woman’s daily folate need.
The Best Okra Soup Recipe
Okra soup has a very distinctive taste. The wonderful thing about I’ve soup is that it’s both affordable and easy to prepare. However, the richer the additional content, the nicer the soup becomes.
Here are some of the ingredients necessary to prepare a delicious pot of okra soup:
- Sliced Okra and grated okra
- Mear or fish of choice
- Scotch bonnet peppers
- Seasoning cubes
- Salt to taste.
- Palm oil
- Grounded crayfish
- Ugwu leaf
Steps to follow:
- Wash meat or fish and put it in a pot.
- Season to taste then steam your meat or fish till it’s tender.
- Once the meat/fish has cooked, remove it from the pot but leave the stock.
- Add more water to the stock (make sure you don’t add too much).
- Pour some palm oil into the pot.
- Add stockfish and let the broth cook till it boils.
- Once the broth starts boiling, introduce the cooked meat or fish.
- Add pepper mix.
- Add grounded crayfish.
- Add seasoning cubes to taste.
- Introduce grated okra to the pot.
- Stir gently and ensure the shredded okra is evenly mixed.
- Leave the soup to cook for 3 minutes (don’t cover the pot once okra has been introduced into the pot).
- Add the periwinkle or any other seafood of choice like shrimps to the pot.
- Add the sliced okra and freshly cut ugwu leaf and leave to cook for 1 minute ( do not overcook the okra or so you can sustain its crunchy and greenish appearance).
Now that your soup is ready, you can serve it with any complement of your choice.
Okra can be eaten with garri, fufu, pounded yam, starch, etc.
There is more to okra soup than its delicious and satisfying taste. Okra provides the body with a wide variety of nutritional benefits which include:
- Protecting the body against cancer
- It prevents diabetes by keeping the blood glucose level within a stable range
- Prevent neural tube defects in pregnant women
- Prevents heart-related diseases
- Has a rich nutritional profile that boosts the immune system.
- The protein content in okra helps to rebuild body tissues and muscles
- It prevents age-related cognitive declines
And much more.
If you only wanted to eat okra soup because of its satisfying taste, you can see there is more to benefit from eating it. Okra is biologically considered a fruit but it’s also a pod with white and tiny seeds. There are many variations of okra soup because okra is found in many countries across the world.
It grows in the tropics because of the warm climate. It’s majorly found on the African continent and South Asia. Despite having two variations: red and green Okra, the taste is still the same. Red okra turns green when cooked.
If you haven’t tasted okra soup before, try this recipe today! We’d love to read your comments in the comments section.