Sometimes you just have to suspend your disbelief. Or maybe just put your trust in a proven source. This silken soup from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey solved the overflow of what I previously thought were random ingredients in my kitchen – okra, green beans and chard. It also produced an alluring, slightly spicy and delicious soup with a combination of flavors that defied identification. In a taste test, I would have been baffled, blindfolded or not. I would have gotten as far as the carrots in the visual test and with some prompting may have picked out green beans in the blind test. I might have suggested eggplant because of the texture and flecks of white seeds.
Despite my photo, this turned out to be a pretty soup, flecked like tweed with light and medium green (almost brown) from the okra, beans and chard stems, dark green from the chard leaves, orange from the carrot, and white from the okra seeds. A background of ground cumin and a slight after-burn from cayenne added a perfect amount of spiciness and depth. It was pretty complex for such a simple soup.
Okra gets a bad rap but I harvest my own (at about 2-3 inches max) and cook it appropriately so that the ooey gooey slime that people find objectionable doesn’t develop. There’s no doubt that the silky texture of this soup comes from the okra but it’s not identifiable as such. Same with my okra stew of a few weeks ago, which by the way, I subsequently made with chicken thighs
Okra, Green Bean and Chard Soup adapted from Madhur Jaffrey
3 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
25 green greens, trimmed and chopped (1/2-inch pieces)
25 fresh, small pods of okra (mine averaged 2 inches)
½ lb green Swiss chard, chopped, including stems and leves
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 ½ c chicken stock
1 c coconut milk (light is fine)
Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot, green beans and okra and sauté the mixture for 5 minutes. Add the cumin and cayenne and stir to combine. Add the chard, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, lower the heat so that the mixture simmers, and cook gently, covered, for approximately 25 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.
Working in batches, blend the soup in a food processor until smooth. Return to the pan and add the coconut milk. Add a little additional stock, or water, to thin it if necessary. Add salt to taste and reheat before serving.