Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm not from gumbo country and didn't grow up eating it, so apologies to those who are and/or did, for this is probably a slap in the face of all that is actually "gumbo". But I call it that because it's faster than "okra bean stew thing". And because Barbara Kafka did in the cookbook whence comes the recipe. This is one of the few meals I make that Jon doesn't love. He's not a fan of tomato-based stews. But I love it. The beans make it hearty and filling. The kale and okra give it a lot of texture. The corn bits are sweet. The roux and chipotle give it a nice smokiness. It's great. I serve it over rice or cornbread. This recipe makes an absurd amount, so it's perfect for serving to friends or freezing for lunch later. As is the case with most spicy recipes on this blog, the heat level is appropriate for me, and I am a big wuss. So feel free to add more chipotles, dried chilies, cayenne, or Tabasco sauce as you see fit. This recipe is a good place to hide leftover or excess veggies you have. I have had zucchinis and yellow squashes lying around that get thrown in there, and I'm sure leftover potatoes, broccoli, green beans, etc. would be good too. It's very flexible.

Vegan gumbo (from Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka)
Makes about 13 cups, serves at least 8 very hungry people

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
2 small or 1 large bunch kale, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
4 cups canned tomatoes, crushed or diced, with their juice
1 pound okra, cut into 1/4-inch slices (fresh is better, but frozen save so much time that I use them instead)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups beans, either canned or cooked from dry, any kind (I usually use kidney or cannellini beans, but anything works in a pinch)
1 cup frozen lima beans
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

First, make a roux. To do this, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins taking on a lot of color. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the roux is a warm brown, like a Hershey's bar. How long this takes is very stove-dependent.
Add the onion to the roux. Remove from heat and continue to stir. The onion should wilt but not burn. When the onion and roux have stopped sizzling, return the pot to medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic, chipotle pepper, and kale. Cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is wilted, about 7-10 minutes.
Add 4 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, okra, and two cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the corn, beans, and limas. Season with vinegar, salt, and pepper. The salt will depend a lot on how salty your beans and tomatoes were. If you used unsalted tomatoes and beans you cooked from dry yourself, add some salt. Otherwise, I prefer just to add the vinegar and salt it myself at the table. If you can let the soup sit for 30-90 minutes before serving, it will let the flavors meld nicely. But if not, no big deal because you will have leftovers, and they will taste even better the next day.

No comments: