Gumbo Z’herbes for Superbowl Sins

In celebration of this year’s Superbowl, we sinned. As did probably everyone else, including the entire city of New Orleans — which deservedly should celebrate their victory with all of their wonderful food and drink.

But some of you, like myself, are probably feeling like you overdid it. Like you need to cleanse your body. Like you want to eat something that is wholesome and not bad for you.

You may be thinking “I should do an herbal cleanse or do a high calonic and go on a three week juice diet”. No, heavens no. Don’t do that.

The Creole and Cajun people of Louisiana developed a cure for sinning many years ago, and it’s much more pleasant than a high calonic. It’s called Gumbo Z’herbes.

Big ol’ bowl of Gumbo Z’herbes, served with Brown Rice, Louisiana Hot Sauce and File Powder.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Gumbo Z’herbes was not originally intended for use as a post-Superbowl bacon binge remedy. It was in fact, created for those suffering from the aftermath of  a far bigger party than Superbowl — Mardi Gras, which in 2010 begins on February 16th.

In Louisiana, Gumbo Z’herbes (also pronounced and written as “Gumbo Zap” in New Iberia  and other parts of the state) is traditionally consumed on Holy Thursday (4/1/2010) Good Friday (4/2/2010)  and through Easter (4/4/2010). But I like this soup all the time, and I thought that after the bacon binge it made some sense to make some now.

The “recipe” that we used was based on  the one on However, there is no “recipe” to Gumbo Z’herbes per se, in that most gumbos aren’t made with a recipe at all. However, tradition dictates that you should have at least seven types of greens in the soup for good luck, and you should have as many as you can get.

For our Gumbo Z’herbes, we used Collard Greens, Chicory, Arugula, Dandelion Greens, Escarole, Swiss Chard, Watercress, Carrot Tops, Radish Tops, Savoy Cabbage, Green Cabbage, and Green onions.

It should also be noted that given the amount of vegetable content in this dish, that it is virtually impossible to make anything less than of 8 quarts of this stuff. It’s a good soup for freezing and for giving away to friends that need it.

If you have never made a regular gumbo before, you probably want to read our previous posts on making a standard gumbo, as you’ll need to know the basics.

More About Gumbo

Valentine’s Day Gumbo

For your Gumbo Z’herbes, you’ll want to wash and then rough chop your vegetables, and boil them in a great big pot filled with water for about two hours.

For flavoring, we added a ham hock to give it some saltiness. You could also use a smoked turkey leg. After two hours of cooking remove your ham hock/turkey leg and pull off the meat.

After the greens are cooked and removed from the pot (DO NOT DRAIN THE WATER, this is your “Stock” now) they are removed and strained, and then sent through the food processor until they are finely chopped. Add this back into the pot after processing.

The other key components of Gumbo Z’herbes is a brown roux, and Trinity, the Cajun/Creole Mirpoix which consists of Onion, Bell Pepper and Celery, finely chopped. For instructions on making a roux and cooking trinity for Gumbo, see the linked posts above.

Trinity is cooked in the hot roux and then added back into the pot. At the 10 minute mark when cooking the Trinity in the roux, we added 1 chopped Jalepeno and 6 cloves of chopped garlic. This was then tossed into the pot with the processed vegetables along with freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.

Mix up your greens with the cooked Trinity/Roux and taste. Add hot pepper sauce, black pepper and cider vinegar to taste. While Gumbo Z’Herbes is primarily a vegetarian dish, you could also add chopped up smoked sausage as well as add oysters, pulled cooked duck, cooked shrimp and other seafood such as crabmeat. Serve with brown rice and file’ powder for thickening.

You want an actual recipe to print out? Here:

Use at least 7 of the following greens, a bunch or head of each:

collard greens
mustard greens
turnip greens
swiss chard
beet tops
carrot tops
radish tops
flat-leaf parsley
dandelion greens
8 or 10 sprigs of tarragon
romaine, green-leaf or butter lettuce (not iceberg)
savoy cabbage
green onions

1+ gallon water
1 large smoked ham hock (optional; omit if you want it strictly vegetarian)
6 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons oil or shortening
1 large white onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 jalapeno, de-seeded, chopped
6 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme (please try not to use dried for this dish)
2 whole cloves
2 whole allspice berries

2 Tbs. Cider Vinegar (more to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Hot Sauce
File Gumbo powder (on the side)

Put a gallon of water in your largest pot (mine is 16 quarts) over high heat with the ham hock in it. Wash, remove the tough stems and roughly chop the greens. Start with the tougher ones, like the collards, and add them to the pot as you go. Add some salt and after you’ve added all your greens, add enough water to just cover (push down on the greens). Set the timer for an hour. Meanwhile, chop your trinity vegetables.

After the hour timer goes off, start making your roux in a separate heavy bottomed pot. You want it pretty dark, and that takes a while, at least a half hour of constant attention. Once it is browned, add your diced onion, celery and bell pepper, all at once, and saute for 10 minutes. While that is going on, use a large handled strainer scoop (like a pasta scoop or a spider) to remove the greens from the big pot. I put them into a big colander set atop a large bowl. Once all the greens are removed, process them a scoop at a time in a food processor. Don’t completely puree them, you want some texture. Add the processed greens back to the big pot. Once you’ve processed all the greens, add the water that drained off them back to the pot too.

By now, the trinity has cooked in the roux for about 10 minutes, add the chopped parsley, jalapeno, and garlic to it, and saute for another 5 minutes. Then, add a few ladles of the soup to the roux (it will boil really vigorously when you first add it). Stir and scrape every bit in the roux pot into the soup pot. Add the spices and simmer for about another hour. Remove the ham hock, pick out the meat, small chop it and add it back to the pot. You can also add more meat of your choice at this time.

Before serving, add the vinegar, some hot sauce, check for salt & pepper, cayenne. But, don’t add the File Gumbo powder. Do that at the table. You don’t want to boil or reheat soup that has already had the file added to it.

20 or so 2-cup servings, but the serving yield depends on how many greens you use!

4 Responses to Gumbo Z’herbes for Superbowl Sins

  1. Jon says:

    Heh. Not even a WORD about the embarrassing Doggie sweaters?

  2. jo says:

    Just popping in to say thanks. Been following blog quite awhile now. Making bulgogi with banchan and had a huge back of snow peas left from work. A quick google found your recipe suggesting an old egullet recipe of a sesame seed/ soy sauce was just the trick. Thanks.

  3. charlene says:

    This looks like a great recipe and the poodles are awesome! We love your blog here at How2Heroes!!

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