Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet or braiser over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes or until the onions become a bit soft. Add the red pepper and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir to coat and add the tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice. Stir to coat. Add the vegetable broth and stir.
Cover the pot, increase the heat a bit and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice covered for 10 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and okra just over the top of the rice and cover. Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the okra is tender and the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat, keeping the pot covered and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Stir and fluff the rice with a large fork. Top with your favorite hot sauce and a handful of chopped celery leaves or parsley.
Hot smoked paprika is vastly different from regular paprika. If you don't have the smoked paprika, you can try substituting with a mix of cumin and chili powder and I'd increase the amount of cayenne. The results won't be exactly the same, of course, but will give you a similar flavor profile. Smoked paprika also comes in a sweet variety. If using the sweet type, you may want to also increase the cayenne.Not all spices are created equal. I find it important to mention because different brands have varying intensities and flavors as do bottles that may have been in your cabinet for a while. That said, I always suggest starting with the amounts given in a recipe and taste-testing. Adjust from there. I've made this with one brand of smoked paprika that ended up having no taste and had to add more. The second time, it was just right using a different brand. Let me know what worked best for you.
Recipe by, Caroline Hurley, Taste Love and Nourish, www.tasteloveandnourish.com