Vegetarian Gumbo with Red Beans and Okra

Packed with red beans and okra, this easy vegetarian gumbo recipe brings New Orleans to your kitchen. With a few swaps, this recipe can be made vegan.

vegetarian gumbo

When it comes to meal planning, Sonja is definitely the driving force in our relationship. I love cooking, but if I didn’t have her I’d probably be eating sautéed veggies and scrambled eggs every night of the week. However, I’m in my second year of gardening, and this summer I’ve discovered the unstoppable force that is the okra plant. I love the stuff, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of okra that you can grow in 6 square feet! Most of my garden has been transitioned to fall crops, but the okra plants are pushing 5 feet tall. Because we have so much okra on hand, I’ve been inspired to use it in more dishes. One of my favorites lately has been this easy vegetarian gumbo with red beans.

What is gumbo?

A popular Creole dish in Louisiana, gumbo is a thick stew often loaded with various meats, seafood, and vegetables. It’s traditionally thickened by three key ingredients: okra, a dark roux, and filé powder, which comes from the sassafras tree (we didn’t use this in our recipe). The “Holy Trinity” is another key component to gumbo. Many Cajun and Creole recipes use a combination of celery, bell peppers, and onions, and our vegetarian gumbo recipe is no exception. Although gumbo is typically eaten like a soup, it can also be enjoyed over rice.

How to make vegetarian gumbo

Although the ingredients list for this vegetarian gumbo is a little long, it’s incredibly easy to make. You’ll spend most of your time prepping the veggies, and then you just have to throw everything into a pot and let it cook. Arguably the most important step in this recipe is making the dark roux. A roux is a blend of oil and flour that’s cooked until it reaches your desired color (the desired color of a roux can range from light brown to almost burnt, depending on what you’re making). My biggest tip for making the roux is to not adjust the heat after you’ve added in the flour. Keep stirring the mixture over a medium-low heat until it’s dark brown in color. You’ll need to be patient, but the rich, nutty flavor the roux adds to this gumbo is worth the effort.

This easy gumbo recipe turned out even better than my expectations. Our Mississippi-bred friend, Mallory, said that it was the best vegetarian gumbo she’d ever had. Backhanded compliment? Maybe. But delicious nonetheless!

Looking for more vegetarian dinner recipes?

This recipe is…

Vegetarian. To make a vegan gumbo, omit the Worcestershire sauce.

Related: Try using our Homemade Vegetable Broth for this recipe!

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Vegetarian Gumbo with Red Beans and Okra


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x

Description

Packed with red beans and okra, this easy vegetarian gumbo recipe brings New Orleans to your kitchen. With a few swaps, this recipe can be made vegan.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups okra
  • 2 15-oz cans red kidney beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • Rice (for serving)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the rice according to the package instructions or use our Instant Pot method.
  2. Dice 2 green peppers, 2 onions, and 3 stalks of celery and place them in a bowl. Chop 4 cups tomatoes and 4 cups okra. Add them to a second bowl with 2 cans of red kidney beans and 2 cups frozen corn.
  3. In a third bowl add 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 cups of water and 2 cups of vegetable broth.
  4. In a large pot, heat 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. When the oil is warmed, add 6 tablespoons flour and start stirring. Stir the roux constantly for about 10 minutes, until the color has changed from white, to beige, to dark brown, and the smell is nutty.
  5. When the roux is ready, add Bowl #1 with the peppers, onion and celery. Stir and sauté until the veggies are tender.
  6. Add Bowl #2 and Bowl #3 with the remainder of the ingredients. Lower the heat to a simmer and let the flavors meld for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over rice and add more Tabasco sauce to taste.

Notes

To make this recipe vegan, omit the Worcestershire sauce.

  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegetarian gumbo

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

6 Comments

  • Reply
    kateiscooking
    September 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I have a pile of okra from the csa that I’ve been waiting for the right recipe for. I believe I’ve found it :-) Thanks!! Kate @kateiscooking

  • Reply
    mallory
    September 13, 2010 at 9:27 am

    it IS the best vegetarian gumbo I’ve ever had! I am excited to make it for myself.

  • Reply
    Jess
    August 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Whenever I have an ingredient that I don’t know what to do with, I always check out your blog. Can’t wait to use up my okra in this gumbo tonight!

  • Reply
    Keri
    December 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Our family eats this recipe on a fairly regular basis. Love it with fresh okra but have used frozen during the off season with good results. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Neil
    April 9, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Not a vegetarian, but enjoyed making and eating this quite a bit! Subbed 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme for 1 teaspoon dried thyme, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 14, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    You can’t really saute the vegetables in the roux – it would just burn the roux. And if you just dump the liquid in you’d have a lumpy sauce.
    You need to saute the vegetables separately. Make the roux and add the liquid slowly to create a smooth sauce. Then add the sauteed vegetables and bowl #2, and simmer until the okra is cooked, about 20 minutes.
    I do like the combination of flavors.

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