Bring a bit of southern flavor to your vegetarian kitchen with this Vegetarian Gumbo.
Due to a clever mix of ingredients, this Vegetarian Gumbo has all the flavor and smokiness of a meaty gumbo. It’s so chock full of veggies, you won’t miss the meat or seafood at all. During the month of January, I gravitate towards lighter and healthier meals as most do. My daughter is vegetarian so I’m always looking to make her vegetarian versions of the foods we most love to eat. Vegetarian Sloppy Joes and Vegetarian BBQ Nachos were both big hits.
This is a recipe that I’ve slightly adapted from the The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table which happens to be my very favorite vegetarian cookbook.
Soy sauce and liquid smoke, plus an array of spices including smoked paprika and nutmeg, help create the smokey flavor that meat typically gives gumbo. The base of the flavor is of course a roux which should be cooked until it reaches a dark caramel color.
To really add more flavor, a tomato and onion are processed with herbs and spices, lots of garlic and some Creole mustard and Worcestershire sauce and then added to the gumbo.
The ingredient list is a little long and not at all typical for a gumbo, but they really work together and create a delicious vegetarian gumbo.
To make a roux, you need patience, a strong forearm, and a heavy-bottomed pan. You want to keep the heat fairly low because a roux burns easily and once it is even slightly burned, there’s no turning back. You will have to start over and you will have filled your house with a god awful smell.
For best flavor, keep cooking the roux until it is a deep caramel color or the color of an old penny.
I actually forgot to add the red beans when I made this batch of Vegetarian Gumbo and didn’t even miss them since the gumbo is so full of delicious vegetables.
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- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 quart vegetable stock or broth
- 4 cups sliced okra
- 1 (16-ounce) can red beans, drained and rinsed
- 8 cremini mushrooms quartered
- 1 1/2 cups diced zucchini 1 medium
- 1 1/2 cups diced green pepper 1 large
- 1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper 1 large
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice
- 1/2 cups sliced green onion
- Place vegetable oil and flour in a Dutch Oven with a heavy bottom. I like to use a cast iron Dutch oven. Turn the heat on medium and whisk continuously until mixture becomes fragrant. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Turn heat to low or medium-low depending on the size and heat your burner gives off. Continue to whisk continuously (it's alright to stop for a few seconds here and there, but not for any length of time) until roux becomes a dark caramel color, like the color of an old penny. This could take 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove Dutch oven from heat.
- In a food processor, process tomato, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, liquid smoke, vinegar, hot sauce, soy sauce, thyme, red pepper flakes, paprika, nutmeg, and oregano until mixture is smooth.
- Place Dutch oven with roux over medium-high heat and add tomato/onion puree. Stir to mix together. Continue to cook until most of liquid has evaporated.
- Add vegetable stock and stir. Bring to a simmer.
- Add beans, mushrooms, zucchini, green and red pepper, and celery and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve with rice and green onions.
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Recipe adapted from: The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table
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44 thoughts on “Vegetarian Gumbo”
Hi, thanks for this recipe. I had a pile of garden picked okra and thought I’d try to make gumbo. There were so many gumbo recipes and this one looked very authentic. I’m glad I chose it, it was a total hit with my mostly vegetarian Indian family.
FYI – Excellent roux and soup base, but I let it simmer for an hour and sautéed the veggies before adding. I also added pan fried veggie sausage on top. It really enhanced the flavors. Will be sure to make again.
When do you add the OKRA?
When a dish likely has it’s name derived from Okra, why not add some to it? 😉
This is delicious! I made exactly as written and added about two tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base for added flavor. Will be making again!
I made this recipe oil free (baked flour in oven for oil-less roux), the tomato and spice puree is very flavorful as written and makes a delicious gumbo. The only thing I changed was the cook method, first sauteing onions (minus the half a cup I put in the puree), peppers and celery, then adding 3 tablespoons of oven baked flour, like I would a traditional gumbo, then added the tomato puree, vegetable, beans (kidney and garbanzo) and jack fruit, finally the the broth. The smell in the kitchen was so amazing that I didn’t have to taste it to know that it was good. This recipe is the TRUTH, the amount of spices needed definitely depends on individual preference however I added extra beans and sauteed okra and didn’t have to alter the spices at all. This is a winner Thanks!
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Bless you! This recipe is terrific! Most of my family does not like vegetables, and definitely not spicy foods, but *I* do! My loving wife made this for just me and it HIT THE SPOT! I will be feasting for days!
How do I make it vegan?
I helped make this with a group of friends last night, the host had picked the recipe. It was so good I came back to save the recipe for myself later but was surprised to see such a low rating. I don’t understand those saying the recipe is bland or giving it a low rating due to it calling for Worcestershire sauce & people not understanding vegetarian versions exist. Regardless, we followed this recipe to a T with the exception of we didn’t have the Worcestershire and there was still PLENTY of flavor. We also doubled but only had 1 can of red beans. It was especially yummy with grits, though we had rice too. I’m not sure what others did wrong, but I’m not a vegetarian, nor am I a fan of bland goulashes, and this gumbo was just as enjoyable as classic gumbo even though it’s extremely different. Highly recommend, and look forward to stealing this idea for our summer garden.
This is NOT a vegetarian recipe. Worcestershire sauce is made from fish.
Actually Simon, you can get vegetarian and even vegan Worcestershire sauce. I’ve even linked to one in the recipe.
I’m a gumbo addict. This is a very good recipe but each cook has to adjust it to their tastes. I added bay leaf and next time I’ll fry the okra in corn meal before adding and the add corn to thicken the sauce. Thank you for this addition! Obviously some people need to actually read the recipe before responding.
We made this last night and, while it was okay, it had almost no flavor at all. I followed the recipe to a ‘T’ and am proficient cooking vegetarian food but…there just wasn’t anything to taste. There’s not even any salt and pepper in the recipe (two things which gumbo needs to ‘wake up’ all the flavors in it and meld them together). The story behind the recipe is very sweet, no doubt, but it resulted in bland food made with good intentions. Maybe turn up the spices next time like a previous commenter mentioned? The inclusion of the smoky flavors worked great but there wasn’t any heat to it like traditional gumbo has.
just add more spices and seasoning then…. i literally quadruple the spices in pretty much every recipe i read. You gotta taste your cooking before you serve it?!