Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cajun Gumbo with Farro, Black-Eyed Peas & Kale

Gumbo's are normally made with a roux consisting of oil and flour that is slowly cooked until it develops a deep chestnut color.  The purpose of the roux acts as a thickening agent for the gumbo.  I don't find roux's to be very healthy and so I don't use them in my cooking.  I prefer to thicken my gumbo's the natural way using a starchy grain such as farro perlato or hulled barley.  Another option is to use okra or filé powder to thicken the gumbo--but I'm not a big fan of these either.  Also, I like a spicy gumbo and so I make my own Cajun seasoning blend.  If you purchase Cajun seasoning in the store, read the label and choose a brand that does not contain salt, or make sure that salt is listed at the bottom of the ingredient list.  Some brands are just too salty and can ruin your soup.  You can always add more heat, but you can't remove salt.


1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 organic green pepper, diced small
1 cup organic celery, sliced 
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp Cajun seasoning (more or less to taste)
1 14 oz can tomato puree
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
10 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup black-eyed peas
1 cup farro or hulled barley
4 cups organic chopped kale or collard greens, stems removed, washed
1/2 cup cut blanched green beans or okra, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Louisiana Hot Sauce, optional

  • Using a dutch oven or stock pot, add olive oil, onion and garlic and cook for about five minutes until onions are soft.
  • Add Cajun seasoning, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, bay leaf, vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add black-eyed peas and reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Bring soup back up to a boil and stir in farro, green pepper, celery, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
  • Reduce heat and simmer soup for 30 minutes until farro and black-eyed peas are tender.
  • Just before serving, add chopped kale and green beans/okra, if using and heat through for about 3 minutes until kale is wilted.
  • Remove bay leaf before serving and serve with Louisiana Hot Sauce. 


  1. This is a great recipe! I like that you incorporate options into your cooking, like replacing the roux with grains. I'm not a fan of kale, but I suppose I could substitute collards. By the way, did you know that dropping a whole, peeled potato into a pot of soup or stew will absorb a lot of any excess salt? I've done this and it works well. Love your blog!

  2. Thanks so much--I'm glad that you like my blog. And thanks for the potato tip!