The news about the University of Nigeria young final year first class student who committed suicide trended so much yesterday that all everyone could read once they opened up Facebook was about Chukwuemeka Akachi (The deceased).
I honestly shed tears and could not sleep well last night as I was lost in thoughts, emotions and lots. I went through the deceased profile like crazy, taking note of his friends’comments and almost scrolling down to when he joined Facebook.
Along the line, I thought: What a crazy world, but as our people colloquially say: ‘‘uwa bu ofu mbia” (Igbo way of saying ‘we only come to this world once‘). It was on this note that I went into the kitchen last night to prepare this Ogbono soup. I actually wanted to prepare Okro soup, but I felt like adding a little ogbono to it so it could draw as I wasn’t sure of the okro I bought, whether it draws or not.
To make it snappy, here is my ogbono soup to calm your soul as you keep loving people!
1. One bowl of fresh okro
2. A handful of Ogbono seeds (Ador)
3. Three cubes of Royco Goat Meat
4. One milkcup of crayfish
5. Four balls of red pepper (Otanjere)
6. Okpeyi (Locust bean)
7. Ice fish
8. Few dry prawns
9. Stock fish flakes (Okproko)
10. Three pieces of dried fish
11. One cooking spoon of palm oil
12. Ugu (pumpkin) leaves.
1. Gind the ogbono at the market or you can use your blender, provided it’s well grounded. Always ensure to use crayfish or okpeyi to finish up the grinding so no ogbono gets stuck forever in the grinding machine. You ask them to use the hand grinder, not the big grinder for grinding okpa, else your okpa will disappear into thin air.
2. Now in your kitchen, boil some water and put the okporoko flakes inside. The flakes are usually salted, so don’t add salt while you cook.
3. Allow the okporoko flakes to boil for about 5 minutes and then set aside.
4. Mix the grounded ogbono and red oil together and set aside.
5. Use the stock to cook the soup and add water little by little. Cook the stock until it boils and then add the mixed Ogbono and stir.
6. Leave the pot open so it boils without pouring on your burner. The ogbono will continue cooking until the bitter taste gets cooked away. This should take about 10 minutes.
7. Now that the ogbono base is ready, grind your pepper and crayfish and add.
8. After about 8 minutes, add your shredded okro. Some use grater to shred their okro, but I use knife, depending on the size I wish. The more you create a wide surface area for the okro, the more it draws. Those of you that did Chemistry will understand right now. What do I mean? If you want it to draw, you shred tiny, otherwise, just dice. Some people actually pound their okro to make it draw, but I don’t like it. If I were cooking only okro soup, I would have done any of those, although I use my wooden spoon to beat in a bowl.
9. Now that you’ve added your okro, the next thing is to cook for 2 minutes and then add the dry fish which you must have soaked in warm water to remove possible insects and wash off the dirts therein. The soaking makes it soft for quick cooking.
10. Pound the okpeyi and add, then stir gently as you add the fish and leave to cook for about 4 minutes.
11. Add the stock cubes, prawn and salt to taste.
12. Check the consistency and add little water as you cook. Don’t let water pass the soup level, else you’ll be left with a watery soup. Note also, that ugu leaves produce water as they cook, so be cautious, the quantity of water you add to your soup base. I love THICK ogbono and okro soup.
13. Add the shredded ugu leaves and turn off the burner. The heat in the pot will tenderize the ugu leaves and cook the okro to finish.
You can serve with any swallow of choice, but I prefer pounded yam, oat meal swallow or semo.
After eating this, you will forget about DEPRESSION and start singing this song:
Ogbono Soup is bae
Soup dear soup, how can I lick you all?
I’ve pondered over this bowl, how life has so much
But some fellas don’t know this yet, no…not at all
They take their own life and which is full of hope
The good things it offers are as sweet as this bowl
He’s gone, but now it’s time to think so tall
Not minding the negatives, we stand to grow
Ogbono soup and okro by Helen’s food is bae!