Vegetarian Gumbo

One of the highlights of my road trip over the summer was New Orleans.  It’s a foodie’s paradise, but not so much if you keep kosher.  If you ask for something without shellfish or pork, you just get a look of pity.  I did manage to find a vegetarian gumbo…and I understood the look of pity.  It was basically a thin, Cajun-flavored vegetable soup, without any of the heartiness that gumbo usually has.  The place that made the gumbo made the mistake that many do when attempting vegetarian food—they just took the meat out.  Any good vegetarian cook knows that if you take protein out, you have to put some back in.  So, for my attempt at gumbo, I used a Paula Deen recipe as a base and took out all of the meat and seafood (the chicken, the sausage, and the shrimp).  And then I started putting things back in: smoked tofu, chick peas, and mushrooms.  The result was a dish that will inspire anything but pity.

Total time: 2 ½ hours

Yield: 8-10 servings

Level: Moderate


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound smoked tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cans chick peas, rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups frozen sliced okra
  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts (optional)


  1. Heat the oil and 2 tbsp of butter in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and cook over, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.
  2. Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tbsp of butter. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable stock, whisking constantly. Add the tofu and the chick peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir 2-3 times while simmering.
  5. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir 2-3 times while simmering.
  6. If desired, just before serving add the green onions and chopped parsley.

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.


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