This is more of a meal than a soup. There are enough vegetables to stand a spoon up in it, and the okra thickens the broth to a silky-rich texture. You can vary the other vegetables according to what is available, and a knuckle of bacon or half a chicken can be added, if you are not making the soup for vegetarians.
Fry the onion, tomatoes and celery in the oil until the onion and celery are translucent and the tomatoes collapsed. Add the sliced okra and pepper, together with the stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 20–30 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, the chick peas or black-eyed beans and their cooking liquid, and the herbs (tied together). Continue cooking until the vegetables are done to your liking. Remove the bundle of herbs, season the soup, and stir in the chopped parsley or coriander before serving. You might like to add a dash of hot pepper sauce.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.