I loved okra even before we moved to the south. So when I saw a recipe for Okra Soup on Close to Home , my assigned blog, I knew this would be a perfect fall time soup . I’ve taken Maria’s version that is based on this recipe at Saveur.com and made some changes like using pancetta instead of bacon and fresh thyme from the garden instead of dried.
To save time, I used fire roasted diced tomatoes instead of whole, peeled tomatoes so I wouldn’t have to crush them by hand. I also used pre-diced pancetta (mostly because it was on sale, but bacon would be OK, too). However, the real time saving trick was to use frozen, diced okra. Since fresh okra costs twice as much as frozen, it’s also a way to cut costs. Finally, you don’t want to boil the okra into a mush. I like the okra to be cooked through, but still have a crunch to it.
I made a double batch so we’d have lots left over for lunches. (You can freeze half, too.) I’ve been heating a batch up in the microwave each morning for my son, Nathan to take to school. He says it’s the best soup I’ve ever made.
Based on a recipe from Saveur.com via Maria at Close to Home
Double batch – serves 12-16
4 tablespoons canola oil
6 ounces pancetta, chopped into small pieces
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 pounds frozen, sliced okra
12 cups chicken stock
4 - 14.5 ounce cans fire roasted, diced tomatoes
In a large soup pot, heat oil and bacon 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 and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, until okra is slightly tender but not mushy, about 20-30 minutes.