Fran Mahaffey has long experimented with okra soup recipes, including the preparation favored by her mother, which called for a ham hock in the pot. “For the most part, I liked all of them, some more than others,” she says.
But Mahaffey quit recipe testing in 1989 when she received the following recipe from a friend.
“It just popped for me,” she says. “I found it to be very satisfying.”
According to Mahaffey, “fresh okra is best,” but frozen okra works too. The same goes for the beans and corn. “Butter beans are one of those items that you can use more or less of,” adds Mahaffey, who likes to serve this soup with rice or corn muffins.
Fran Mahaffey’s Okra Soup
1 pound ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
2 cups water
1 cup butterbeans
2 cups okra, sliced
1 cup corn
3 pounds fresh tomatoes, diced, or 2 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
1 rib of celery, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
Crumble ground chuck in a saucepan and sauté over medium heat until meat begins to brown. Drain off any excess fat.
Add chopped onion; stir until onion begins to soften. Add 2 cups of water and bring mixture to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium. Add beans and cook for 15 minutes. Add okra and cook for another 15 minutes. Add corn and cook for 15 minutes more. Add tomatoes and celery. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If the soup seems too thick, add water.
Salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Editor’s note: Fran Mahaffey's okra soup is one of four competing in The Post and Courier food section’s recipe contest for a category crown. Over the course of a year, the newspaper will publish four reader-supplied recipes for each of 12 iconic Lowcountry dishes.
Featured recipes have been lightly edited to conform with the newspaper’s style, but they have not been tested: It’s up to readers to choose a winner. To weigh in on the okra soup race, join us at bit.ly/PCFoodFBgroup.