Chop onions and brown them (only just) in the sunflower oil. Add the chopped celery – say 4-6 stalks, 2 chopped green peppers, pith removed and cook gently.
Put the garlic in when the veg are soft so it doesn’t burn. Smoked paprika has quite a strong flavour so use sparingly – just under a teaspoon.
Thyme – maybe half teaspoon, 3 bay leaves (off my tree). Make a veg stock (I use Marigold) and add this to the softened veg.
Put in the potatoes cut into 2-3cm cubes (or their equivalent). Try to use potatoes that keep their shape – waxy rather than floury.
I used a pressure cooker for 5 mins but otherwise simmer until the potatoes are almost cooked. Add salt to taste.
MEANWHILE: make a roux using oil, a tablespoon of flour and more stock with a dash of tomato puree. Stir constantly to stop sticking and make a smooth paste before adding the rest of the stock.
You should end up with a smooth liquid, approximately the consistency and colour of canned tomato soup!
Carefully stir it into the veg mixture and then add around 400 grammes of the okra, stir, allow to heat through and finally add a drained can of black eyed beans, followed by tofu cut into tiny cubes (both of these from wholefood shops like Earthbound in Cotham, Harvest in Gloucester Road).
Allow the beans & tofu to heat through.
This soup is based on the classic seafood Gumbo from the American South. It sounds more complicated than it is.
My quantities are a bit approximate but you can change them and certainly scale them down if you need to.
Careful with the smoked paprika – it’s a strong taste and you need less than the more familiar sweet paprika. Cayenne is HOT so add it at your peril!
I think the defining feature of a gumbo is thickening with flour using the roux method.
Some methods make the roux first using only onion, oil & flour and then cooking all the other veg in this medium (with stock added).
I thought that was especially hazardous with the pressure cooker. Sweetcorn can be used maybe instead of the black eyed beans, and some recipes include chard.
To make more of a meal, serve with rice.