Gumbo Z’herbes, or green gumbo, was traditionally served during Lent as it could be made without meat. According to Emeril Lagasse in his 1996 cookbook “Louisiana, Real and Rustic,” there was a legend that for every green that was put into the gumbo, a new friend would be made during the year. I’ve seen recipes (obviously not for Lent) that included salt meat, pickled pork, bacon, and ham. We like our gumbo with andouille sausage cut into small pieces so that you get surprise bites while eating the soup. To keep the Lenten theme going, the first sauté of onions, bell pepper, and celery is known as “the holy trinity."
In the winter we use dried herbs, but the soup is really excellent with fresh herbs in the summer. Enjoy. —drbabs
Test Kitchen Notes
Well, I was going to try this recipe anyway before it was a community pick. I love gumbo and have a N’awlins dinner coming up which will include some vegetarians, so this soup is perfect. I like the lemon kick that drbabs has given it. Some advice: I would allocate about half a day to doing this right -- your love will be rewarded. Give yourself plenty of prep time for the “trinity” and the greens; Drbabs suggests an hour to three hours of cooking time, and I would go with the latter. With some of the greens like collards and kale, you really need to hammer the slime out of them. Drbabs includes file powder as “optional,” but I think it’s mandatory. Plus, it’s not difficult to find in the spice section. Put in the effort; it’s worth it! —pierino
chopped bell pepper
chopped celery, preferably the innermost ribs (reserve the leaves for later)
celery leaves from your head of celery, finely chopped
fresh thyme leaves
chopped fresh rosemary leaves
bay leaves (preferably fresh)
Worcestershire sauce (leave out if you want this to be vegetarian)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
small links smoked andouille sausage, cut into small pieces (optional)
Fruity olive oil, for serving
scallion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
Cooked white or brown rice, for serving
Filé powder (optional)
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)
In This Recipe
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally until softened but not browned. Stir in garlic and let it sweat with the other vegetables for a minute or two. Add water or stock to the Dutch oven. Raise heat until it comes to just below boiling. Add greens and celery leaves a little at a time until they are all wilted into the soup. Add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Halve and juice a lemon, and put both lemon halves into the soup. Add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, if using. Reduce heat to low and simmer soup, uncovered, for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. The vegetables will become mushy and the soup will be very green. This is what you’re going for. Taste and add salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more Worcestershire sauce to your taste. Fish out the bay leaves and the lemon halves and discard them. Stir in the andouille sausage if using.
To serve, place a scoop of rice into a bowl, pour soup over the rice, and add about a teaspoon of olive oil on the top. Sprinkle with scallions.
Pass around the filé powder and hot sauce to use as desired.