If you asked me to summarize childhood in one bite, I think my mom’s gumbo would probably be that bite. We did not have it weekly or monthly, but we had it often. And hers is the best gumbo I have ever had. Sometimes we would have it because company was coming in town, sometimes because our dear friends Buck and Alma brought us fresh shrimp from the gulf, but mostly, we had it because it tasted so good and was comforting to all of us.
My mom is from Biloxi, MS. Making it regularly was her way of infusing her heritage into our Texas seeped roots. And now we all get to pass that on to another generation….who LOVE gumbo!
(Our gumbo does NOT have a roux. Never has, never will. Healthier and tastier this way.)
So tonight, we have family in town. And she is making gumbo. I so badly wanted to make a vegan version. But really, what makes the gumbo taste so good is that bacon grease, the okra, the shrimp, sausage, and chicken! And I can only eat one of those ingredients. I had to try and see what I could do. So this is what I spent the morning doing…and am SO glad I did!
Vegan Gumbo, Biloxi Style
- 2 bunches mustard greens
- 1/2 bunch red chard
- 4 celery stalks
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 quart of okra (next time will do 2 quarts)
- 1-2 tsp Vegebase
- 9 ish cups water
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Cajun seasoning or Tobasco
- Cooked brown rice to serve over
1) Wash greens and chard in a sink full of water and let the dirt fall to the bottom. Drain in a colander. Place in a large stock pot. Add a few inches of water to the bottom and some Kosher salt. Bring to boil, then simmer with the lid on. Using tongs, gently toss the greens every few minutes. Continue until the greens are cooked down. I prob let them cook for 40 minutes or so.
2) Chop all other vegetables. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium high heat (this will be the pot you finish the soup in). Add these veggies and cook until they are translucent and yummy looking. Stir often. It is almost always wise to add salt to veggies that you are cooking. It coaxes the water right out of them. These pictures of the veggies are before cooking down. I should have taken an after picture. :(
3)Add Vegebase, water, Worcestershire Sauce, and any seasonings you would like. I added fresh ground pepper and some Tony Chachere’s. Bring the soup to a simmer and just let it cook away. At some point, it stops looking watery and starts looking like gumbo. That is what we are aiming for.
4) Somewhere during all of this cooking, drain your greens. Chop half of them and put half in a blender and blend into a paste. If you need, add a little water to your blender. Then add all of this to the gumbo.
5) Cook and taste for seasoning! Add whatever your heart desires. At the very end, add the file’, if you have it.
This gumbo is bright green! You can certainly add soy sausage or whatever you would like. Personally, I am trying to avoid all processed foods of any sort. I *almost* didn’t add Tony’s or Worcestershire Sauce. I am glad I did, though, because I consider this gumbo a huge success! I actually love it!
It tastes like home. Thanks, Mama :)