Gumbo z’herbes, a traditional New Orleans Lenten meal, is a whole different pot o’ soup than the rich, roux-thickened, andouille-laden gumbos that are cooked year-round. speyerer explains that the name is a contraction of gumbo aux herbes. The dish is made with greens, and the more types used the better. Tradition holds that an odd number will bring good luck, and the number you use will be the number of friends you’ll make in the coming year.

Because it’s a Lenten dish, gumbo z’herbes traditionally is made without meat, though MakingSense says it is usually cooked with meat broth. It’s a light dish, made without roux, and unlike other gumbos it’s not served over rice. speyerer’s family recipe, which serves 20, doesn’t use meat broth. Here it is:

1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch turnip greens
1 bunch spinach
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 bunch watercress
1 bunch beet tops
1 bunch carrot tops
1 bunch radish tops
1 bunch dandelion greens
1/2 head green leaf lettuce (not iceberg)
1/2 head cabbage
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (enough to just cover the bottom of the pot)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small turnips, peeled and cubed
2 cups dry white wine
Water to cover
3 teaspoons Creole seasoning

Wash greens and drain well. Cut out stems and center ribs and tear greens into small pieces. In a cast iron pot, add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pot and heat oil until it is hot. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add greens and cubed turnip. Add wine, water to cover, and Creole seasoning and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until greens are tender, about 2 hours. Serve greens hot with their cooking liquid or “pot likker.”

Board Link: Lenten Treat? --- Gumbo Z’herbes

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