I really wish this gumbo was prettier.
If this dish was a person, it’d be the kind you would describe to someone as having “a really great personality” when you tried to convince them to take him/her on a date. Seriously, I get it. You’re looking at some darkened vegetables swimming in a murky tomato broth and thinking “there’s no way I’m going to make this, I wish she’d posted a recipe for cookies instead.”‘
The thing is, I’m not a big fan of vegetable soups myself. Whenever I inquire at a restaurant about their soup of the day, I’ll normally jump on it if it’s something like “corn chowder” or “broccoli cheese,” but tell me it’s “vegetable stew” and I typically go with a sandwich instead. I’ll admit, I can be a bit judgmental.
But this gumbo breaks the mold. First of all, it has okra in it, and okra always makes things better. Always. Second of all, it is absolutely DELICIOUS. All that stuff about it having an amazing personality? In this case, it’s 100% true. You NEED to give it a chance; just take it out for dinner one time. I promise you’re going to fall in love.
Important note: This recipe has Worcestshire sauce, which is made with sardines. If you’re simply trying to increase your vegetable intake that shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re making this for, or as, a strict vegetarian, just leave it out.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-4 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cups okra, chopped
Salt and Pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bottle pale beer
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 – 6 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (15oz) can crushed tomatoes
4-5 cups chopped kale
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted add in the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, or until they become translucent. Add in the bell pepper, celery and okra and saute for another 5 minutes to soften everything. It’s fine if the onions start to brown. Season with salt and pepper and then add in the garlic last and saute for one minute.
Add in the bay leaf and flour and cook for one minute more. Stir in the beer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Now add the vegetable broth, water, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce (if using it), nutmeg and crushed tomatoes. Stir in the green and bring everything up to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes, or until the greens are fully cooked.
Serve by itself, or you can ladle it over rice or cornbread.
This recipe can be made a day ahead and just heated up before serving. The longer the flavors have to mix together the better.