If you’re looking for a healthy gumbo recipe, your search ends here. It may not be traditional, but it’s faster and still captures that gumbo soul.
Don’t believe us? See for yourself!
What Is a Gumbo Recipe?
Gumbo is a type of Cajun Creole stew or soup that originated in the state of Louisiana. It’s famous as one of the state’s signature dishes.
The name of the dish is derived from the African word ‘ki ngombo’, which means ‘okra’. This suggests that okra was originally one of its main ingredients.
In the Native American Choctaw language, the word ‘kombo’, pronounced similarly to the name of the dish, translates to ‘filé’. Interestingly enough, filé powder is one of the ingredients used to make gumbo as well.
In other words, with all the linguistic possibilities, the dish could easily have been named after its ingredients.
Now, as we all know, Louisiana cooking is strongly influenced by French cuisine, and gumbo is part of that. Many gumbo recipes use a ‘roux’ (a mixture of fat and flour) as a thickening agent.
To sum up: Gumbo is the result of many different cultures coming together. But origin aside, we can all agree gumbo is one of the most popular foods in the Deep South.
Is Gumbo Healthy?
Our chicken and sausage gumbo recipe may not be low in calories, fat, or carbs, but it is healthy. Here’s why:
- It’s high protein. One serving of gumbo contains 40% of your protein DRI; it should keep you full for a long time.
- It has almost 15% of your fiber DRI. Fiber can also help you to feel full, and maintain healthy and regular bowel movements.
- It’s very low in sugar. Having a low-sugar diet can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
How Many Calories in a Gumbo Recipe?
There are 498 calories in our chicken gumbo, including a side of cooked rice.
Although this amount of calories may seem high, it’s still within your recommended daily intake. And, it’s sufficient to fuel you for half a day.
If you love healthy, comforting chicken soup recipes like gumbo, be sure to check out our chicken tortilla soup recipe.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe: Ingredients
The beauty of gumbo is that you can make it with whatever ingredients you have on hand. This is also why no gumbo recipe is the same.
There are a few basic ingredients that really make a gumbo recipe, and they are:
- ‘Holy Trinity’ of vegetables: consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper. These vegetables will give your gumbo a hint of savory sweetness and lots of powerful flavors.
- Thickener: there are 3 main thickeners that you can choose to put in your gumbo: roux, filé powder, or okra. We’ll go into detail about them later.
- Protein: from poultry, to seafood, to sausages, to beef, you can put whatever you like into the gumbo. The main protein sources for today’s recipe are chicken and smoked sausages.
- Spices and herbs: dried thyme, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika.
Seafood Gumbo Recipes
Although we’re only making chicken and sausage gumbo today, we’d like to talk a bit about seafood gumbo.
Seafood gumbo is one of many variants of gumbo recipe. Its main protein can be a mix of seafood, but the most common ones are shrimp and crabs.
If you want to make an amazing shrimp gumbo, we recommend buying fresh whole shrimp. You will have to put in some extra effort, but it will be worth it.
With fresh, head-on shrimp, you’ll have to remove their shells and devein them. And when you do, save the shells and use them to make a flavorful shrimp stock.
To make shrimp stock, you just need to sauté the shells in a bit of oil over high heat. Add chicken broth and wait for it to boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and leave it cooking for 15 minutes.
Then all you have to do is strain the stock to remove the shells.
As for the shrimp, sear them before adding them to the gumbo.
The seared shrimp and shrimp stock will give your gumbo an extra seafood flavor.
Fresh crabs can be very hard to prepare. And depending on the varieties, they can be expensive as well.
Fortunately, you can easily find canned crab meat at a low price. Or if you can afford it, frozen, pre-cut crab is also available.
And since your crab is already prepped and cooked, you just have to add it to your gumbo.
Keep in mind that seafood is high in sodium. So we suggest saving the salt and seasoning your gumbo once it’s done cooking.
Apart from shrimp and crabs, you can also add mussels, squid, or scallops.
Gumbo really is a versatile dish; you can make it however you like.
That being said, there is one thing you have to make up your mind about before you start: the thickener.
What Can You Use To Thicken a Gumbo Recipe?
Some say it’s the thickener that breathes the soul into a gumbo recipe, and we couldn’t agree more.
As mentioned, the most commonly used thickeners for gumbo are a roux, okra, and filé powder. Let’s get to know them.
Roux is a French cooking technique.
To make a roux, cook flour in a kind of fat such as oil, butter, or lard, to form a paste. Dissolve that paste in liquid and you’ll get a thick sauce.
There are 3 types of roux: white, blond, and brown.
All roux starts out as white roux. Then depending on what you’re cooking, you adjust the cooking time to achieve your desired roux color.
To make gumbo, you’ll need a brown roux as its flavor is more intense in comparison to the others. Dark brown roux also gives body to the gumbo, along with a rich and hearty mouthfeel.
Okra is another thickening agent that gives gumbo its signature flavor.
It’s a type of flowering plant that produces edible seed pods. The plant originated in Africa, but is now widely available in America.
Some people may not enjoy okra very much, as it can be slimy.
Whether you like it or not, those slimy seed pods actually have lots of health benefits. And they can help thicken the gumbo too.
Compared to the rich roux, okra won’t thicken your gumbo as much. However, it will brighten up your soup with a refreshing taste.
3. Filé Powder
To many people, filé powder is the only acceptable thickener of a gumbo.
This spicy powder is finely ground from the dried leaves of sassafras. It’s a type of North American tree that is distinctively known for its aromatic properties.
As a thickening agent, filé powder can be substituted for okra when okra’s out of season. This powder will give the soup a thicker texture and a unique flavor with a hint of herby earthiness.
You can use either roux, okra, or filé powder to thicken your gumbo. Or even combine them.
There is no real set recipe, so just do whatever works for you.
How to Make a Healthy Gumbo Recpe
This is a simplified step-by-step gumbo recipe:
Sear the chicken: Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Sear chicken with salt and pepper until golden brown on both sides. Once cooked, transfer to a plate. Leave to cool and shred into bite-sized pieces.
Sear the okra: Cook the okra in the same pot until lightly charred. Remove from the pot and set aside. Searing the okra beforehand will help reduce its stringiness.
Make the roux: Add more oil to the pot along with butter and flour. Stir occasionally and cook over medium heat until the flour turns a dark golden brown color.
Sauté the vegetables: Add onions, bell peppers, and celery to the pot. Cook until the vegetables are softened. Then add chopped tomatoes and garlic. Cook on high heat for 1 minute. Add okra back into the pot and mix it in with the other vegetables.
Cook the herbs and spices: Add basil, thyme, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook on high heat for 30 seconds to awake the spices.
Cook the gumbo: Combine chicken broth, shredded chicken, sausageAdd chicken broth, shredded chicken, sausages, and bay leaf to the pot. Allow the broth to boil before reducing the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Check for seasonings and serve: Taste and see if you need to adjust the seasonings. Turn off the heat and serve gumbo over steamed rice.
What to Serve with a Gumbo Recipe?
1. Potato Salad
Gumbo and potato salad is a popular meal combo in Southern cuisine.
Southern potato salad is creamy and looks more like mashed potatoes. They usually serve a scoop of potato salad in their gumbo.
When you eat it, take a bit of the potato salad and dip it in the gumbo soup. Grab a bite of chicken, sausage, and vegetables, too, and experience an explosion of flavors.
If you want to make Southern potato salad, it consists of boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and mustard. You can add carrots, onions, celery, and pickles to give the salad texture as well.
Steamed rice is a common side dish for gumbo. You can use whatever type of rice you want, but we highly recommend basmati rice.
Basmati rice is less sticky— making it perfect to pair with saucy food like curry and gumbo.
You can serve gumbo with simple steamed rice, or you can kick it up a notch by seasoning your rice.
Add about ½ tablespoon of salted butter and ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice to 3 cups of cooked rice. Mix well and add about 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley and a pinch of pepper.
These seasonings will make both the rice and gumbo more flavorful.
Although tomatoes are usually added to the gumbo, you can serve tomatoes on the side as well.
You can use whatever variety of ripe tomatoes you want.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil and salt on top of the tomatoes. Bake for 15 to 30 minutes until they’re slightly softened.
Oven roasted tomatoes are bursting with flavor. They will add a refreshing touch to your gumbo.
Meal Plan with a Healthy Gumbo Recipe
For today’s meal, we’re having gumbo with a side of zucchini fries.
These fries are simply the best appetizer and finger food as they are easy to make, delicious, and healthy. Their crispy exterior adds a nice textural contrast to the thick, rich soup.
Below are the nutritional details of today’s meal:
Healthy Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe
- 6 oz skinless boneless chicken thighs 4 medium
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1/4 tsp salt divided
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper divided
- 5 oz okra cut into ½-inch slices
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1.5 oz yellow onion diced
- 1 oz celery diced
- 1.4 oz bell pepper red and green, diced
- 4 oz tomatoes finely chopped
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 4 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 4.8 oz smoked sausage 2 links
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3 cups cooked medium-grain rice
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
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- Heat up 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper. Sear for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover it with aluminum foil. Allow it to cool slightly.
- In the same pot, add okra and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Once the okra is lightly browned, transfer it to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, butter, and flour. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat or until the roux has reached a dark golden brown hue; stir occasionally. Meanwhile shred the cooked chicken with a pair of forks and set aside.
- Add chopped onion, celery, and bell peppers to the pot. Sauté for 3 minutes over medium heat or until tender.
- Return okra to the pot, along with dried basil, thyme, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add unsalted chicken broth, shredded chicken, smoked sausages, and bay leaf. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
- Taste and check for seasoning if needed. Remove the pot from the heat. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve with rice.
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1. How to Store
If you have leftover gumbo, the first step is to wait and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Put the gumbo in an airtight container and put it in the fridge. It will stay good for 3 days.
2. Can You Freeze Gumbo?
Yes, you can freeze gumbo.
Put gumbo in a heavy-duty ziploc freezer bag. Seal it tightly and put it in the freezer.
Frozen gumbo can last up to 1 month.
When you need it, put it in the fridge and allow it to thaw slowly overnight.
Alternatively, you can put the bag of frozen gumbo in a tub of water and let it thaw.
Check to see if the water is too cold; you’ll need to change the water a couple of times during the defrosting process.
3. How to Reheat
You can reheat your gumbo over the stove or in the microwave.
To heat gumbo over the stove, put gumbo in a pot and cook over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and serve.
If you’re using the microwave, be sure to use a microwavable container and lid.