Okra is often boiled or fried and served as a simple side in soul food restaurants, but in Charleston it often comes as a luscious vegetable soup with tomatoes, onion, and celery. This recipe first appeared in our May 2011 issue, with the article Specialty of the House.
Okra is often boiled or fried and served as a simple side in soul food restaurants, but in Charleston it often comes as a luscious vegetable soup with tomatoes, onion, and celery.
Yield: serves 6-8
2 tbsp. canola oil
3 strips bacon, finely chopped
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 lb. okra, trimmed and cut into 1″ slices
6 cups chicken stock
1 (28-oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
Heat oil and bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring, until fat renders, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, garlic, onion, celery, and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add okra, chicken stock, and tomatoes; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, until okra is very tender and soup thickens slightly, about 45 minutes.