Vegan Gumbo with Andouille Red Bean Meatballs

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This vegan gumbo is packed with juicy tomatoes, Cajun spices and hearty red bean andouille meatballs! Serve it with rice for a hearty and flavor-packed vegan meal!

I’d had vegan gumbo on my to-make list for a while and I just happened to have some okra in the fridge. I never just happen to have okra in the fridge, but I spotted some in the produce department at my supermarket the other day and bought it on a whim. Perfect excuse to get to work on a recipe!

This gumbo is made with vegan meatballs (beanballs if you prefer). Traditional gumbo doesn’t have meatballs, but we’re rule-breakers around here.

Some versions of traditional gumbo do have andouille sausage, but homemade vegan sausage is a bigger project than I think most of us want to deal with for a weeknight dinner.

Having said that, if you’re in real rush, there are even quicker options than meatballs. Try store-bought vegan sausage, seitan, or even just a can of red beans.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Olive oil. Use another high-heat oil like avocado oil, coconut oil, or canola oil if you’d like.
  • All-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour also works.
  • Onion.
  • Bell pepper.
  • Celery.
  • Garlic.
  • Vegetable broth.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes. Regular old canned diced tomatoes will work if these aren’t available.
  • Okra. Use fresh okra if you can find it. Otherwise, frozen okra works fine. Frozen orka is partially cooked, so thaw it and add it to the pot when your gumbo has about ten minutes of cook time left.
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Most Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, so be careful here. Whole Food’s, Annie’s and Edward & Sons brands are all vegan. You can also use homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce (it’s easy!).
  • Spices. You’ll need paprika, cumin (for the beanballs only), thyme, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and a bay leaf.
  • Salt.
  • Red kidney beans.
  • Panko breadcrumbs.
  • Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if that’s what you prefer.
  • Liquid smoke. You can find this near the barbecue sauces at the grocery store. It’s totally vegan and will add lots of smoky flavor to your red bean meatballs.
  • Hot sauce. I like Crystal or Tabasco sauce with my vegan gumbo.
  • Rice. Gumbo is traditionally served with rice. I went with basic short grain brown rice, but feel free to use your favorite.
  • Scallions. Also known as green onions.

Tip: One ingredient that I didn’t include but you’ll find in many traditional gumbo recipes is filé, which is a powder made from sassafras leaves that primarily serves as a thickener. If you’d like to serve your gumbo with filé, add a few teaspoons towards the end of cooking, or sprinkle a bit over each bowl when serving.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Make your roux first. Heat the oil in a large pot and whisk in the flour. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it darkens a bit and begins to smell nutty.
  • Stir in diced onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook the veggies for about 5 minutes, until they start to soften, then add the garlic and sauté it briefly until it becomes very fragrant.

Tip: Your roux is the thickener for your vegan gumbo, so don’t omit it or skimp on the flour or oil.

  • Stir in your broth, tomatoes, okra, Worcestershire sauce and spices.
  • Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Now lower the heat and let your gumbo simmer until the veggies are tender and the base has thickened up.
  • Make the beanballs while the gumbo simmers. Place the beans into a food processor bowl, along with panko breadcrumbs, soy sauce, liquid smoke, paprika, cumin, thyme, oregano and black pepper.
  • Briefly blend the ingredients.
  • Roll the bean mixture into balls, then brush or spritz them with some oil.
  • Bake the balls until they’re lightly browned, flipping them once or twice during baking.
  • Remove the bay leaf from your gumbo and season it with salt and hot sauce to taste.
  • Divide the meatballs among bowls, then ladle the gumbo over them. Serve each bowl with a scoop of rice and a sprinkle of chopped scallions.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan gumbo will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months. I recommend storing the stew separately from the meatballs (they get soggy!).

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