Okra Soup with Gboma Leaves and Crab

Fetri Ma

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    4 to 6


Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Gboma leaves have a beloved somewhat bitter taste. This soup is an example of a Ewe dish flavored with them. If gboma leaves are not available, substitute spinach or another dark green leaf. The added oil adds to the soup’s “heaviness.” Ewes tend to use a lot of ginger, garlic, dried shrimp, and smoked fish. They often feel food is too bland without them. This recipe supports that claim.



  • 1 pound beef (with bone in), cut into chunks (about 20 pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon ground or grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground or grated fresh garlic
  • 1 beef or shrimp seasoning cube (or seasoned salt)
  • 1 cup sliced shallots
  • 8 kpakpo shito peppers, sliced; or fresh chili pepper of choice in desired amount (see chart; optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground red pepper


  • 4 (4-ounce) fresh soft-shelled crabs, or large crabs, or king crab legs
  • 8 ounces smoked dried fish (about 3 to 4 ounces with skin and bones removed)
  • 2 tablespoons pounded dried shrimp
  • 1 beef or shrimp seasoning cube or some seasoned salt (optional)
  • 1 small piece saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to help thicken the soup (optional; some claim health concerns in using this)
  • 8 ounces fetri okra or any okra (fresh if possible), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup good-quality palm oil, preferably zomi
  • 1 cup firmly packed gboma leaves or spinach or green leaves of choice, washed
  • A few sliced seeded chili peppers: jalapenos (mild), or green cayenne peppers (hot), or 1 to 2 habanero peppers (very hot), or 16 kpakpo shito peppers, crushed slightly (for those unused to spiciness, use any peppers sparingly)
  • ¼ cup sliced onion



Prepare beef

  1. Rinse the beef in a little water and drain. Put the meat in a pan and season with the ginger, garlic, seasoning cube (or seasoned salt), shallots, chili peppers, and dried ground red pepper. Stir well, add ¼ cup water, and put on the stove on medium heat, covered.
  2. Simmer, reducing the heat if necessary to keep the water from evaporating (and adding more water as necessary), until meat is tender. The length of time depends on the toughness of the meat. Check it after 20 to 30 minutes.

Prepare crab and fish

  1. If using soft-shelled crabs, cut off the sharp ends of the legs and clean out underneath the mouth.
  2. Break off the heads of the fish, if desired (Ghanaians would likely leave them on). Remove skin and bones from the fish.

Prepare soup

  1. Once the meat is tender, add 3 cups of water to the meat in the pot and bring it to a boil. Add the dried shrimp and half of a beef or shrimp-flavored seasoning cube (or ½ teaspoon seasoned salt), if using.
  2. Add the crab and smoked fish. (If using the saltpeter, add a small piece “to draw out the stickiness of the okra.”) Cover the soup and let it simmer for about 5 or 6 minutes.
  3. Place the okra on top of the other ingredients. Shake or stir the palm oil to mix it and add to the soup. Stir in the gboma or spinach leaves. Add the fresh chili peppers and sliced onion.
  4. Simmer for several minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

To Serve

Serve this soup with starch of your choice. It is also good reheated the next day.


  • Reduce the amount of palm oil.
  • Increase the onion and/or water.
  • Substitute smaked goat with skin on for the beef.