A Harvest of Okra = Gumbo

Garden Okra
Chicken Gumbo Soup

My organic farmer friend, Sally Ransohoff, stopped by and bought me a basket of red and green tender okra. A “gift without ribbons” for sure. 

My own dwarf okra bushes are producing new pods every day, as well, so I’ve got lots of okra to eat! 

One of my favorite ways to use seasonal okra is in soups, in particular a very special simple chicken gumbo soup. 

This is the chicken gumbo soup we cooked years ago for our bazaar lunch at Holy Trinity Church in Batavia, Ohio. Double-digit gallons of soup bubbled in huge pots on the ancient gas stove in our church hall kitchen. The soup always sold out. 

I’ve shared this recipe before, and had requests to rework it using less rice, broth, and no bay leaf. 

Here’s what I came up with. If you have bay, add it for enhanced flavor and remove before serving. 

This is a quick and yummy soup to make for these crisp fall days.


Soup takes to creative license. Do your own thing here — a little more of any ingredient is OK. I use thighs but breasts work, too. 


Olive oil 

1 pound or so boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1” pieces 

Salt and pepper

1 bell pepper, diced

1 medium onion (not sweet), diced (about 1-1/2 cups)

2 nice ribs celery, diced

Minced garlic to taste — start with a big clove, minced (generous teaspoon) 

1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil 

4 cups or so chicken broth

1/2 cup rice

1 can, 14.5 oz., diced tomatoes

As much okra as you like, sliced 

Fresh parsley, minced (optional)

Instructions soup

Pour a little oil in bottom of large pot over medium heat. 

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Cook chicken in oil until it turns opaque. It won’t be done.

Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic and basil. Cook until onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes or so. 

Pour in broth, rice and tomatoes. Give it a couple of stirs.

Bring to boil, then lower to gentle boil, cover, and cook until chicken and rice are done, about 20 minutes. Cook it longer if you want.

Instructions okra

Film a pan with olive oil or add bit of butter over medium heat. 

Stir in okra and cook to your liking. Okra gets a little sticky as it cooks — some folks call it slimy, but that’s a good thing. If you were to add the okra to the soup, it helps thicken it.

Anyway, I cook it separately since not everyone in my family likes okra. 

Add to each bowl of soup before serving.

Eat okra raw

Slice stem off, cut lengthwise and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Good for you

Okra has vitamin C and plant protein, among other nutrients. 

Freeze okra whole

Friend and “Okra Queen” Char Castle of Batavia, Ohio grows enough for freezing.

Cut stem off.

Blanch in boiling water for a minute.

Plunge into ice water to cool.

Drain and freeze up to 1 year.

Thaw a bit before slicing.

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