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Monday, July 31, 2017

Charleston Okra Soup

Southern cooks can make anything taste divine. I swear they specialize in taking scraps and turning them into food fit for kings. Take okra for example. I grew up scared of it. It seemed prickly on the outside and slimy everywhere else. And those seeds! They looked more like what I found in the pond water I played in. I did try the fried version. Most were good but there were the occasional bites that burst into my mouth with a slimy weird, what was that? texture. Okra. Pass. Even worse for my husband. He did not consider it human food. He claims it was grown only for the horses in his Colorado and Ohio homes. But now...

Older and wiser. I love okra in all sorts of forms. Once I faced my fear of the slime pop, I was hooked. I fell in love with roasted okra. I started asking friends who garden for all their extras. I found lots of folk are afraid of okra. They might eat it battered and fried, but cook with it? Few and far between. When I created a Diner News devoted to foods of the South last fall, I discovered stewed okra with tomatoes. Love! Still trying to convince my old Dude Ranch horse-hand hubby. He is no fun sometimes!

Seeing that there is often an abundance of okra this time of year, I explored some new recipes to take me new places. Oh the things people are doing with okra these days. It is actually a very international food. Some call the pods ladyfingers. I found lots of Trim Healthy Mamas putting okra in so many strange concoctions. Seems it is all the rage to put this much misunderstood vegetable into smoothies, soups and even baked goods. So I tried a few recipes floating around the web. I have joined the okra band wagon for sure. So sad that my gardening sources from the last couple years have dried up. I am having to purchase it at the grocery store now. I am ashamed at how few of my stores carry this nutritional powerhouse. I like it fresh, but my freezer will never be without a bag or two long as Walmart carries it at least.

According to Organic Facts, Okra can help us lower cholesterol, improve our digestion and guard our eyesight. It gives us glowing skin, strengthens bones and our immune system, may help prevent cancer and lower blood pressure too. How have we been ignoring this goodness and giving it all away to the horses for so long?

If you are not ready to table up to a big bowl of roasted okra, start with this soup. It is beefy and full of rich flavor. The uninitiated will barely notice anything green in the bowl, and may never need to know it is indeed okra. Give this one a try. I made an easier go of the Charleston original recipe, skipping a few steps here and there, but I gotta say, this soup is delicious. You may find the authentic recipe several places online:(I altered a recipe at Oysters and Pearls) so purists may want to try that one first. Or if you  just want to get your feet wet in the ocean of okra goodness, get busy with this soup recipe.

Charleston Okra Soup

This Southern soup is well known in Charleston, a tradition so they say. The original recipes calls for the slow simmering of a shin bone, but I wanted a quick version that used garden fresh okra and tomatoes. I turned to my pressure cooker for that slow simmered taste, and skipped the bone, going with thinly sliced beef. In my area, it is labeled as Carne Picada. You may use any thinly sliced, shredded beef. You may also double the recipe.

6 oz shredded beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomato
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cups sliced okra
2 cups water

Turn the pressure cooker to brown mode. Brown meat and onion. Stir tomato paste and spices into the meat. Add okra and water. Bring up to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Release  pressure and serve.                   Serves 4:  108 calories  5 net g carb

Be watching for the August edition of the Diner News. It will be out tonight. If you would like to order the 2017 24/7 Low Carb Diner Newsletter, just click here. I made some other mouth watering okra dishes too. Plus some fun ideas for the overload of zucchini, the plethora of peppers and the tubs of tomatoes. Ahh--the best thing about summer.

Now for your sneak peek at the other great garden fresh recipes we have for you this month at the Diner: 

Garlic Butter Roasted Okra

Italian Flag Salad

Italian Sausage Red Sauce pver Zoodles

Lemon Garlic Zoodles

Lemony Okra Creole

Lemon Zucchini Crockpot Snack Cake

"Never Tell" Dark Chocolate Brownies

Salchicha Stuffed Peppers

Yesterday's Bell Pepper Slaw

Zucchini Gondolas

Microwave Zucchini Chips

Hide the Vegetables Red Sauce

Okra and Maters Southern Style

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