Ila is the Yoruba word for Okra, and Asepo means “To cook together”; ila Alasepo is mixed okra soup. In regular Yoruba style, okro is typically served with stew. The fact that the ingredient that would normally go into the stew goes into the soup itself makes this a “lesser’ soup for the affluent Yoruba folk. Ila alasepo according to my grandma is something you cook when you are out of money.
The determining factor for a great okro soup is the level of viscosity (how much it draws), this is why akaun is added.
On the nutrition scale: okra is rich in Fibre, protein, Vitamins k/c, Folate and Magnesium. I turned this soup into a “rich” soup by making use of a wide variety of proteins.
Precooked meat – 2 cubes
Smoked fish – 2 pieces (washed and pulled)
Fresh or dried prawns – 1 cup
3 cups beef stock or water *
½ teaspoon cooking potash (Kaun) or Baking soda *optional
1 cube maggi (2 cubes if using water)
1 teaspoon pepper powder
3 tablespoon blended crayfish
¼ cup palm oil**
Salt- to taste
1 red bell pepper (Tatashe) – finely minced
2 cups chopped okro
*(use less water if you are not adding lots of meat to the soup)
** You can make this even healthier by leaving out the palm oil
– Place a pot on medium heat , pour in the meat stock (or water), cover and bring to a boil.
– Add in the cooking potash, if using. Reduce heat to medium. Add in the prepared meat, fish, prawns, crayfish powder, maggi palm oil and pepper. Combine. Leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes.
– Stir, taste and adjust for Seasoning.
– Add in chopped okra and minced tatashe. stir well to combine. taste and adjust for seasoning. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
Note: If using baking soda, add it in about 2 minutes before cooking ends.
Serve with Semolina, fufu, garri or pounded yam . Enjoy!