The first chicken and okra stew I should be posting is gumbo, yet, this stew holds a special place in my heart.
One of my favorite aunts used to make a similar soup, Chicken & Okra, all the time. It was just like a gumbo, but without a roux. It was really good, and I would make it from time to time in wintertime over the years.
One year, I was in love with barley. Not quick-cooking barley, but the whole grain barley that takes hours to cook, and leaves you with a rich stew that you could stand a spoon up in the next day.
At this same time, it was just after Hurricane Katrina and my uncle was undergoing chemo & radiation treatment. I started bringing them quarts of soup when I would visit. Turns out, the barley was easier to swallow than the rice they’d been eating it with. Plus, my aunt is allergic to rice, so, finally, a winning solution for her, too.
When my daughter was little (under 3), I used to send this for her lunch. This is not a pretty soup. Okra and barley? Yep, not pretty. So, after sending this soup/stew over a few months, apparently my neighbor actually tried the soup. And liked it. So, now, whenever I make it, I usually send a quart or so across the street.
Imagine your grandmother’s chicken soup meets your Russian/German/European Grandmother’s chichen & barley soup (stoup – the kind that the spoon stands up in the next day) which then meets some very Southern okra…what do you get?
Something really good. A very hearty soup, as hearty and satisfying as any stew.
So, whenever I make this I am always reminded of my uncle, and of my daughter, and how much they both loved it.
Like any good chicken soup, it takes a while. Some slow simmering.
- 1 1/2 -2 pounds bone-in chicken parts
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1/2 diced bell pepper, red (is nice) or green or yellow,, too
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 16-ounce bag sliced frozen okra, or about 3 cups sliced fresh okra
- 1/3 barley
- 4 cups water
- 1 large, or 2 small bay leaves
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2-4 cups water, as needed
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon, if needed
Saute the vegetables in the olive oil until translucent. Once they are translucent, add the bone-in (I like the skin on, too) and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool. Immediately upon removing the chicken, add the okra and barley. Return to a boil, and let simmer for an hour or two. After about an hour and a half, the okra will start to fall apart when pressed with a wooden spoon. I usually break up the okra, and continue simmering. You will need to add more water; I added about 3 cups 3 different times. I also added 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon, separately, to taste.
Freezes very well.