4 ‐ 6 bunches of greens, including nearly any combination of at least 5 – 7 different “herbs”, such as: dandelion leaves, lovage, mustard greens, kale, escarole, turnip tops, watercress, endive, nettles, chicory, spinach, radish tops, beet greens, scallions, ramps, parsley, arugula, chickweed, nasturtium leaves, etc.)
1 onion and / or shallots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 small fennel bulb & fronds, chopped
1 Anaheim or poblano pepper, diced
6 ‐ 10 cloves garlic, smashed & chopped
2 bay leaves
Good‐sized handfuls of fresh herbs to taste, including: thyme, oregano, marjoram, tarragon
Dashes, to taste: ground allspice, ground cayenne, smoked paprika, ground cloves, black pepper, white pepper, salt
8 ‐ 10 cups stock / broth; can include some white wine
Small amount of thickener (gluten free flour, corn starch or potato starch)
1/3 cup olive oil
Gumbo file powder, for serving
(Optional‐but‐not‐traditional: sliced okra, zucchini, sautéed after adding the celery but before adding the stock.)
Wash greens well to remove grit. Remove & compost tough pieces of stems, ends, etc. Chop greens & set aside (I don’t recommend pre‐boiling them as many recipes suggest – it ruins the nutrients and the beautiful green color fades!)
In a large, heavy‐bottomed stock pot make a roux of the flour and shortening. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper, and celery. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add the tarragon, thyme, bay leaves and sauté 5 more minutes. Add the stock / broth, greens, spices, and remaining seasonings. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Adjust seasonings as necessary. (Keep some greens out to add at the last minute if a brighter green color is desired). Add more stock if the gumbo gets too thick.
To serve, scoop gumbo over your favorite rice (basmati, jasmine, brown, white, red, black), sprinkle a bit of the file powder on each bowl, & pass the hot sauce (smoked Tabasco is nice).
The United Nations has declared that 2016 will be the International Year of Pulses in order “to raise awareness about the protein power and health benefits of all kinds of dried beans and peas, boost their production and trade, and encourage new and smarter uses throughout the food chain.”
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has a great website with information about everything you ever wanted to know about pulses, which are are a subgroup of legumes. (The term”legume” applies to the whole plant, whereas “pulses” are the dried seeds of legumes – such as dried beans, peas, and lentils.)
To celebrate the IY of Pulses, here is a garlicky lentil soup recipe which can be adapted in many ways. It may be thickened a bit more with less liquid and more vegetables, to use as a stew or over rice.
Several cloves of fresh garlic, smashed and chopped
2 stalks of fresh celery, diced
2 fresh carrots, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of thyme and / or oregano
1 cup of lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil (organic, extra virgin)*
1 teaspoon sage
about 5 cups vegetable broth or water
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Paprika or Pimenton
Optional: sea salt or umeboshi plum vinegar to taste
Optional: ½ cup dry sherry, Manzanillo, or Marsala wine
Optional: fresh or dried lemon peel
Optional: Chopped tomatoes to taste
Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots / onion, carrot, and celery; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add half of chopped garlic; stir for a few more minutes. Add herbs, and stir more. If using sherry add now. After stirring again for a few minutes, add lentils, liquid, bring almost to a boil, then turn low and simmer for a while to blend flavors. Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions, and a squeeze of lemon.
*Note: For folks on a whole-foods-plant-based diet who wish to consume no oil, water or broth may be substituted for the initial saute of the onion, garlic, and herbs.