One-Pot Wonders

Lemony Gumbo Z’herbes

March 15, 2012
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery, preferably the innermost ribs (reserve the leaves for later)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
  • 2 pounds assorted greens: collards, turnip, beet, mustard, chard, kale, or spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful celery leaves from your head of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (leave out if you want this to be vegetarian)
  • 1 pinch Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 small links smoked andouille sausage, cut into small pieces (optional)
  • 1 splash Fruity olive oil, for serving
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Cooked white or brown rice, for serving
  • 1 pinch Filé powder (optional)
  • 1 dash Hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Holly Schaefer
    Holly Schaefer
  • lastnightsdinner
  • Monique
  • luvcookbooks
  • boulangere

26 Reviews

Holly S. January 14, 2019
I was confused about two things— do I add the lemon juice or just the lemon halves after they have been juiced? And shouldn’t the sausage be cooked separately before adding?

Either way, this recipe is delicious. I didn’t add the juice or use sausage and it still came out wonderful!
drbabs January 15, 2019
Hi Holly. I add the juice and lemon halves because I like things lemony and I like the edge of bitterness from the rinds, but you don’t have to. Also, yes, if your sausage is not cooked, you should cook it first. When I use sausage, I buy turkey andouille sausage from Trader Joe’s; it’s precooked.

So glad you enjoyed the soup.
acwhitney January 12, 2019
I've had this in my recipe box for a while and finally got around to making it. It is definitely a keeper. I love the intense lemon flavor and all those healthy greens. I used a chicken andouille to accommodate a non-pork eating member of the family and it worked well. I couldn't find file powder here in the north. I will order some online for next time.
drbabs January 12, 2019
I'm so glad you liked it. I make it without filé powder all the time, and it's good either way.
lastnightsdinner February 19, 2015
This was fantastic, really lovely. The lemon added such beautiful brightness! It was great the next day, too. Thanks for the recipe!
drbabs February 19, 2015
Thanks, Jen! I'm so glad you liked it.
Monique February 18, 2015
Hi, quick/silly question.
Do you keep/use the stems when you chop the greens? (Also, is that 2 lbs of greens including the stems?)
drbabs February 18, 2015
Not a silly question. It depends. If there are really thick ribs like on kale, I tend to discard them. And you want about 2lbs of usable greens, but really, a little more or less is fine.
cloudasmoke January 4, 2015
I didn't have sausage so I pan fried some chicken thighs with a little bacon fat then removed the chicken and cooked the veggies in the same pan. It was delicious, great recipe!
drbabs January 4, 2015
I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for letting me know.
luvcookbooks January 27, 2014
Made this last night for a party and it was great!! Served with red beans and rice, bluepoints on the halfshell, wine and cinnamon buns for dessert!!
drbabs February 20, 2014
Oh, I just saw this! I'm so happy you liked it.
boulangere October 10, 2013
Oh, I just knew it!
drbabs October 10, 2013
You're sweet.
Kukla October 10, 2013
Congratulations Barbara on the CP!! Your Gumbo sounds wonderful and what an honor for the recipe to be reviewed by Mr. Tough Love himself!
drbabs October 10, 2013
Thanks, Kukla! And, yes, a good review by pierino is almost as good as a win!
heather October 10, 2013
I am embarrassed to say as a New Orleanian, I have never made Gumbo Z'herbes. Thanks for the reminder. I would recommend though to specify to the readers that the gumbo calls for smoked Andouille sausage. I know that is probably assumed by most, but fresh Andouille is available and if you added fresh right at the end as you suggest, that would be a big problem.
drbabs October 10, 2013
Thanks for the correction, heather.
fearlessem September 27, 2013
Four cups seems like so little water for that large a volume of vegetables and greens. Is the four cups correct?
drbabs September 27, 2013
Yes--everything cooks down a lot and it does get more stew-like. You can certainly add more water if it's not soupy enough.
bpfox April 23, 2012
Thought this was great! It turned out perfectly!
drbabs April 23, 2012
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it!
hardlikearmour March 20, 2012
I love green gumbo! I've made Chuck Taggart's version from the Gumbo Pages, and it's surprisingly rich and delicious. Can't wait to give yours a whirl!
drbabs March 21, 2012
Thank you for telling me about this! I'd never heard of Chuck Taggart or the Gumbo Pages! I hope you try this and that you like it!
aargersi March 15, 2012
I love this Dr B! Have never made this version of gumbo, but now it is ON the to do list!!!!
drbabs March 15, 2012
Thanks, A! I hope you enjoy it!