When I first began eating kosher, I experimented quite a bit with making recipes kosher. One of the first things I tackled was gumbo, which is a cajun stew that traditionally involves some mix of shellfish, chicken, and sausage in a rich, spicy broth thickened with a roux made of flour and butter. With some substitutions, I was able to make a pretty great kosher chicken and sausage gumbo. Now, though, I had to take it to the next level and make it whole food, plant based AND cut the fat and sodium.
It’s the Jewish holiday of Sukkos and I woke up determined to have this going in the crockpot for the Yom Tov. There’s a chill in the air and it’s a great time to have a soup that my family can dig into any time they’re hungry.
I started with a basic vegan gumbo recipe and increased some of the veggies. Then, I cut the sodium by using low-sodium vegetable broth and making my own cajun seasoning mix without the salt. A regular cajun seasoning blend can have around 130mg of sodium in just 1/4 teaspoon! In the grocery store, every cajun seasoning mix I could find had salt as the first ingredient. So…I made my own and cut at least 2 Tablespoons of salt from our gumbo. I cooked my veggies in it to help the flavors get into them. You could skip this step if you’re running low on time.
The next challenge was the roux. I’d already experimented with thickening gumbo by baking flour. It’s really simple but you DO need to watch the flour really closely so that it doesn’t burn. You want it just brown and toasted and you’ll need to put a thin layer of flour on a cookie sheet and set it under a broiler and stir it often until it looks something like this:
From here, everything goes into the crockpot to simmer. I start the gumbo on high until it bubbles well, then reduce the heat to low or warm, whichever setting is enough for a very low simmer in your crockpot. I’ll serve this with some brown long grain rice and a green salad.
Slow Cooker Gumbo
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2 zuchini, chopped
1 cup okra, chopped (if you can’t find frozen or fresh okra, double up the zuchini
water or broth for sauteing the vegetables
1 batch of cajun seasoning (recipe to follow)
1 cup flour of your choice
1 4 cup container low sodium vegetable broth
4 cups cold water
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with the juice
1 15 oz can kidney beans
1/2 cup brown lentils
Add all the chopped vegetables to a large frying pan and saute with the cajun seasoning until tender. You can skip this step if you’re in a rush and simply add them all to the crockpot with the seasoning. Pour the vegetable broth and canned tomatoes and beans into the crockpot and add the water and the lentils. Spread 1 cup of flour onto a dry cookie sheet and place in the oven under the broiler. Watch the flour carefully, stirring until it is brown but not burned. Remove the flour and stir into the gumbo before it begins to heat. Set the crockpot on high for 1/2 hour, then lower to low or warm for a low simmer. Serve with steamed long grain brown rice or crusty whole grain bread and a salad.
Salt Free Cajun Seasoning Blend
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon onion powder
Mix all these ingredients together and use wherever you would use a spicy cajun seasoning. Store leftovers sealed in a spice jar in a cool, dry place.