My husband and I make Gumbo at least once a year, usually in the winter.
This is a real-life conversation between my husband and me:
Him, “It’s November! Let’s make gumbo!”
Me, “It’s still pretty hot outside. We should wait for the weather for to get cooler.”
One week later: Him, “It’s finally cold outside! Let’s make gumbo!”
Me, “We are already at the grocery store and we don’t have the recipe with us. You know we are going to forget something important.”
One week later: Him, “We are in the middle of making a grocery list, let’s write down all the gumbo ingredients!”
Me, “It’s the week of Thanksgiving… I don’t think we can eat four Thanksgiving dinners (we have a lot of extended family) and a whole pot of gumbo in one week.”
One week later: Him, “Let’s make gumbo!”
Me, “Yes! Let’s make gumbo!”
Why do you need to wait for the perfect time to make gumbo? It’s a heavy soup! It has a ton of protein that will keep you full for hours! You need to eat it when it is cold outside (although, we have been known to make it the summer like a bunch of crazy people).
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This recipe also makes A LOT of gumbo! We have a large stock pot that we use for making gumbo because it makes so much. That makes this a great recipe for sharing or to make while hosting. If this is too much soup for your family, then cut the recipe in half or freeze half (don’t add rice before freezing, then make fresh rice when you unthaw the soup).
There is a bit of a time commitment when it comes to making gumbo. There is a lot of prep time to chopping up all those ingredients. However, most of the chopping could be done in advance, if you like. I like to find a cooking buddy to help me get the prep done faster. Another plus is that this does make so many leftovers that you won’t have to cook again for the rest of the week! The time commitment is totally worth it!
A gumbo roux is traditionally made with flour and oil. A gluten-free roux is made in the same way, just with a gluten-free flour. I have always used white rice flour, but I would imagine that any rice flour based flour mixture would also work for a gluten-free version.
For the Roux:
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 cup regular flour OR for a gluten-free version use white Rice Flour and reduce oil amount to 1/4 cup.
- 2 bell peppers, chopped finely
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 1 cup green onion, chopped finely
- 4 stalks celery, chopped very finely
- 2 pounds frozen okra
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and tails removed (Totally okay to omit for people with shellfish allergies)
- 1 pound polish sausage, chopped into small pieces
- 3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded*
- 8 cups chicken broth or stock
*Rotisserie chicken would work well. I personally like baking my own whole, raw chicken and then adding the chicken drippings to my soup. Also, when it comes to shredding your chicken using a KitchenAid stand mixer with a paddle attachment is the fastest and easiest way! I love this KitchenAid hack!!!
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (more or less depending on taste. We like more than this, but keep it at 2 tsp. since our kids eat it)
- 3 whole bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
You will also need 2 cups of rice, cooked, to serve the gumbo over–measure 2 cups dry rice, then cook.
Make the Roux
Do not let a roux intimidate you! Just make sure to give it your full attention.
I recommend using a cast iron skillet if you have one. The thick walls of cast iron skillet will keep the roux from burning as you heat it up.
I also think it is necessary to use a sauce whisk (pictured above). It reaches the edeges and it is easy to do a lot of stirring in a flat skillet. The bottom coil is a silicone coated wire that will not scratch (other) pans.
- Add your oil to your skillet and turn on high heat, until hot.
- Add your flour and whisk constantly.
- Continue stirring constantly until your flour starts to turn brown, about 5 minutes.
- Turn heat down to low.
- Continue stirring constantly until mixture turns a dark brown and thickens, about another 5 minutes.
Be careful not to burn your roux. You do not need to whisk vigorously, but you do need to constantly stir!
Make the Gumbo
In a large stock pot (remember I said this made a lot!) add the following:
- half the chicken broth
- diced polish sausage
- yellow onions and peppers
- diced celery
- can of tomatoes
- bay leaves and seasonings
- shredded chicken
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Occasionally stir. If chicken broth starts to reduce, add another cup. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
*Hint* The celery will take the longest to become tender.
Once vegetables are tender add remaining ingredients:
- remaining chicken broth
- green onion
Bring back to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the shrimp and okra are cooked.