Creole Gumbo Z’ Herbs

Creole cooking is one of the few cuisines truly indigenous to America. The French along with the French Canadian immigrants from Arcadia (Cajuns) contributed their skill in manipulating anything edible into a tasty dish. Creole cuisine is also influenced by the Spanish love of piquant, African genius for slow cooking greens, and the native Choctaw Indians gift of finding flavorful local herbs and spices. All four cuisines converged in one place to create the special Creole and Cajun cuisine unique to Louisiana.

Gumbo Z’ Herbs is a classic and is often called “the king of gumbos”. It was traditionally served on Good Friday when Louisiana Catholics couldn’t eat meat. Legend has it that for every green that was put in this gumbo, a new friend would be made in the next year.

Creole Gumbo Z’ Herbs – Green Gumbo

This version of "green gumbo" does have a bit of meat. It also replaces fresh greens from the market with equally delicious fresh-frozen ones so that it may be enjoyed year round. Make it without meat for a lighter vegetarian version that is equally as good.
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Course: Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: American, American Deep South, New Orleans, North American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large pot with cover
  • Medium skillet
  • Food processor, blender, or immersion blender (optional)

Ingredients

  • 12 oz Frozen spinach
  • 12 oz Frozen mustard greens
  • 12 oz Frozen turnip greens
  • 12 oz Frozen Collard greens
  • ½ head Cabbage, shredded
  • 2 qt Water
  • 1 stick Butter, at room temperature
  • 2 medium Onions, chopped
  • 2 stalk Celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 cup Bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 lb Stew meat or sausage, chopped into small pieces
  • ¾ lb Ham, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch Scallion, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 whole Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Each: dried basil and thyme
  • tsp Each: ground allspice and cloves
  • ½ cup Parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp Tabasco hot sauce
  • 5 tbsp Flour
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 oz Oysters, bottled (optional or instead of meat)
  • File (if desired)

Instructions

  • Prepare Soup Base – Add 2 quarts water to a large pot over high heat. Add spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, cabbage, bay leaves, basil, thyme, allspice, and cloves. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer covered.
  • Saute Vegetables and Meat – Melt ½ stick butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onions, bell pepper, and celery until limp. Add to the greens in the pot.
    In same pan, add oil and fry the meats until browned. Transfer meats to the pot with a slotted spoon. Simmer everything for 1 hour over medium-high heat.
  • Finish Soup Broth – After 1 hour, stir in scallions, parsley, garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well.
    At this point, if you feel like it, scoop out about a quart of gumbo to a blender and puree it until smooth. Return to pot, cover, and let simmer 2 more hours.
  • Thicken Gumbo – About 30 minutes before gumbo finishes simmering, combine ¼ stick softened butter with flour to create a paste. Slice a little bit at a time into the pot. Stir until all the paste and any lumps are fully incorporated.
  • Finish and Serve – If using oysters, add and continue cooking until edges begin to curl, about 5 minutes. To serve, scoop some white rice into bowls and top with gumbo. If using, sprinkle file' over soup or put out rice and gumbo separately on the table.

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