September 16, 2012

Basic Vegetarian Gumbo

.. the aromas of good ol' Creole cooking always make me smile. Andouille sausage was probably one of favorite meats before I went plant based. I don't miss the meat, but I do sometimes miss the flavors. A good hearty Gumbo is a good way to remember those flavors all over again. A lot of vegan/vegetarian gumbo recipes that are available online use vegan sausage and while I am sure that would taste good, those products are also extremely greasy and processed. Instead of sausage, I tried TVP chunks, with Cajun seasoning and .. my current best friend in a bottle - LIQUID SMOKE :) !!!  

Vegetarian Gumbo
Prep Time: 30 min

  1. 4 or 5 cups vegetable broth
  2. 1 medium to large Red Onion, diced
  3. 3 stalks of Celery, diced
  4. 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  5. 2 cups of Spinach, stems removed
  6. 1 cup white button mushrooms, quartered
  7. 1 cup Baby Carrots
  8. 1 12-oz bag of Frozen Diced Okra
  9. 1/2 cup TVP Chunks
  10. 2 tbsp Liquid Smoke
  11. 2-3 tbsp Corn Starch, as needed. 
  12. 1-2 tbsp Creole/Cajun Seasoning, to taste
  13. 2 tsp of fresh Thyme leaves
  14. Salt and Pepper, to taste
In a deep stock pot on medium heat, bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a rolling boil. You can use water instead, but vegetable broth tends to add a lot more flavor. As the broth boils, add ingredients one by one, making sure that the liquid continues to boil during this process. Add onions and garlic, then okra, then spinach, mushrooms and baby carrots. Lastly rinse the TVP chunks in running water and add those as well. Reduce heat to a simmer, and boil for another 10 minutes or so. I used spinach today instead of green bell peppers which are more traditional to Gumbo, so feel free to use those instead. After about 10 minutes of simmering the soup, mix cornstarch in tap water and add in small amounts until the consistency thickens (but don't let it congeal). Add liquid smoke and cajun seasoning, mix well, seasoning with thyme and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve over brown rice. 

My Assessment: From what I've read, you need to boil the gumbo for at least an hour to get rid of the sliminess of the okra. From what I know of okra, it tends to get slimier as you cook it more. I only boiled this soup for about 25 minutes, including the time after I added corn starch. I don't mind the slightly sticky flavor of it, but if you do, try boiling it longer. Overall, I really liked this recipe. No added fat, very low on salt and very high on a lot of flavor. I love Creole seasoning :) 

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