Ewe-style Light Okra Soup with Chicken

Fetri Detsi

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    4 to 5

    servings

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Okra, aka “Lady Fingers,” that Cinderella of vegetables, is indigenous to West Africa. Among the Ewe people of the Volta Region, there is a short fat type known as Anlo fetri after the region where it originated. (The Ewe word for okra is fetri, and the word for soup or stew is detsi.) This version is one we prepared at Flair Catering. Though it is somewhat time-consuming to prepare the okra this way for this soup, the result rewards your efforts. It is a delicious way to try okra if you never have before.

Ingredients

    Chicken

  • 1 chicken cut into 8 to 12 pieces, including the giblets (heart and gizzard) and neck, but not the liver (or buy already cut-up chicken pieces)
  • 1 lemon for cleansing the chicken
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced or ground fresh garlic (or to taste)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons seasoned salt or no-salt seasoning mixture (or to taste)
  • A pinch dried ground red pepper
  • ¼ cup sliced onion
  • A little fresh coarsely sliced chili pepper (kpakpo shito if available, or your choice)

Okra

  • 8 ounces fresh okra
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped onion

Soup

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (e.g., peanut, safflower, canola; not palm)
  • teaspoons tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Ground dried shrimp/crayfish
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chicken seasoning (e.g., salt, no-salt seasoning of choice—in Ghana they would likely use a large chicken-flavored seasoning cube)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground red pepper (or to taste)

Method

Directions

Prepare chicken

  1. After cutting the chicken, remove extra fat. Put the chicken pieces in a bowl and add half a cup of water and toss to wet. Cut the lemon in half and rub one half over the chicken pieces to cleanse and season them; then empty the bowl and repeat with the other half of the lemon. Rinse the chicken in 2 cups of water.
  2. Put the chicken in a soup pot with the ginger, garlic, salt/seasoning, and a little ground red pepper. Mix it well to coat the chicken (easiest to do this with your hands), then add ¼ cup sliced onion, the fresh chili pepper, and about ¼ cup water.
  3. Turn on the heat to high, bring mixture to a boil, immediately lower the heat, cover the pot, and allow the chicken to steam for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let the chicken cool while you prepare the other soup ingredients.

Prepare okra

  1. This is the fun part. Wash the okra, then cut off the tip of the top and tail of each. Cut through almost all the way to the end and then make another cut so the okra is cut into 4 pieces that are still held together at one end. Remove the seeds—this takes a bit of effort and the tip of a knife (or fingernails). (Barbara removes the seeds “to keep it tidy” but says that in poorer families they would not remove the seeds.)
  2. Now you will need a good-sized cutting board and a sharp knife. Stack several of the seeded okra together and slice through them. Continue until all the okra is chopped. Gather the chopped okra together on the board and sprinkle the onion on top and mix it in. Fill a cup with water. Pour a couple of tablespoons of water onto the okra-onion mixture and mince them together, then continue mixing and mincing and adding a little more water every couple of minutes. (It will probably take about ¾ cup of water all together.) The okra mixture will thicken and foam and bind itself together to become a mucilaginous dough. Use a knife and a large spoon to lift the mass into a bowl.

Prepare soup

  1. When the okra is ready, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in another soup pot. Add the tomato paste and ½ cup of water to the pot and stir.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot it was steamed in onto a platter. Then strain the liquid into the pot with the tomato paste mixture and discard solids. Add the ground dried shrimp/crayfish, another teaspoon (or 2) of salt, the chicken seasoning, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer.
  3. Remove and discard the skin and any extra fat from the chicken, and then add the chicken to the broth mixture along with the ginger and dried ground red pepper.
  4. Add 1 cup of water to the okra “dough” in two batches, mixing rapidly with a spoon (or your hand) to break it up. Mix the okra into the soup and let the soup simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

To serve

This soup goes well with Banku or the similar Ewe Akple.