A soup with Southern flavors and warming heat that takes advantage of summer’s bounty of fresh red (or green) okra. A tip for those opposed to okra’s texture: Refrigerate the fresh okra for 24 hours to keep it from getting that gummy, slimy texture.
2 tablespoons butter
5 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 fresh red or green jalapeno,
1 tablespoon paprika, preferably half of it smoked and the other half sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon oregano, dried
1 tablespoon thyme, dried
1/4 cup wine (white, rose, red, whatever you have that’s dry)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mexican crema* or yogurt, for topping
In large stockpot, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon strips from pot and set aside. Reserve bacon fat in pot.
Add butter. Saute celery, onion, garlic and jalapeno and saute until softened. Add okra and stir to combine. Add paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme and saute a minute or two longer. Stir in wine, let simmer 2-3 minutes, Add broth, tomatoes and brown sugar. Simmer about 45 minutes, until okra is soft-tender. Crumble bacon back into pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve topped with a drizzle of crema or yogurt.
*Similar to sour cream or creme fraiche. Available in Latin food specialty stores and some major supermarkets.