Sweet Potato, Okra, and Chickpea Gumbo

by on September 29, 2009
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Sweet Potato, Okra, and Chickpea Gumbo

With okra, as with most things in life, size does matter. When you’re talking okra pods, smaller is better—tender and tasty. Let them grow too big and they become tough and woody. However, when it comes to the plants themselves, bigger is definitely better. After a summer of more garden failures than I care to count, the little plot beside my house somehow managed to produce a small crop of enormous okra plants:

Crazy Tall Okra

One of them is at least 16 feet tall; to pick the okra at the top, I have to grab the stalk and bend the whole plant over. From these four plants, one of which is a dwarf variety, I gather about ten pods a day, which I save up until I have enough for roasting or gumbo. If I skip picking them for even one day, the pods grow to five or six inches in length and become too tough to be good to eat. Recently, I left them unpicked for two days and when I harvested the ten overgrown pods, they alone weighed almost a pound. Interesting, yes, but inedible.

With so much okra to use up, we’ve been enjoying a lot of gumbo lately, with different ingredients depending on what’s the the refrigerator. Yesterday I got a craving for sweet potatoes and decided to create a gumbo to fit my mood, with tender chunks of sweet potatoes and enriched with a secret ingredient: peanut butter. Using peanut butter in gumbo may sound a little strange until you consider that gumbo, which gets its name from the Bantu word for okra, is similar to and probably descended from stews common in West Africa, where peanuts are a staple. The one tablespoon I used here contributes just a subtle flavor, but it’s enough to make this one of my husband’s and my favorite gumbos.

 

Sweet Potato, Okra, and Chickpea Gumbo


Sweet Potato, Okra, and Chickpea Gumbo

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Moon Cat September 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

This looks sooooo good! With the weather starting to change, I have been in the mood for soups and stews and OKRA! Thanks!

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2 Sarah Campbell September 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

This is perfect for the change in our weather. I wish I had more okra on hand. I will keep it for as soon as I do. Thanks.

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3 A September 29, 2009 at 3:44 pm

I've only had fried okra. That gumbo looks fabulous though!!!
-A

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4 Shannon September 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm

I've been reading your blog for a while but this is the first time I've posted a comment and it has to do with the peanut butter.

Have you heard of a product called PB2? It's powdered peanut butter with the fact removed. You recieve it in plastic packages, add water and ta dah! I also eat it in yogurt with fruit and some granola in the morning (ok I'm a vegetarian, not vegan hence the yogurt).

Anyway, if someone is really against that small amount of fat this is an option. You can order it online and although I'm not sure of the address, if you just google it should come up.

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5 The Ordinary Vegetarian September 29, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Fantastic! I've been looking for a new recipe for okra, this sounds perfect.

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6 Josiane September 29, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Oh, a gumbo would be so good right now, and this one looks fabulous! I'm sure the peanut butter gives it a little je-ne-sais-quoi that makes all the difference!

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7 Nicole September 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Hi Susan! First, let me just say that I adore your blog and reference it all the time for healthy dinner inspirations (although my husband and I love your many muffin recipes as well!) Second, I was wondering if this gumbo recipe would work with frozen okra, since that's just about all we've got up here in the Northeast? Or would it get too mushy?
Thanks.

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8 taleoftwovegans September 29, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Drat! I just ate all of the okra I bought the other day. I roasted some of using one of your other recipes-very tasty!
This looks really good though, potentially good enough to warrant purchasing some more okra to make it.
-K

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9 moonwatcher September 29, 2009 at 6:38 pm

HI Susan,

Thanks, this looks very good, and I enjoyed seeing the okra plants, which I've never seen. I'd like to echo Nicole's questions about the frozen okra, since I'd be lucky to find even that in the wilds of Idaho. . .might even end up getting stuck with canned. . or none. . .anyway, would welome your take on this, or anything you think might substitute well, if okra can't be found.

(Love the combo of the touch of peanut butter and liquid smoke. . and also thanks for the tip about the baking soda, too.)

xo

moonwatcher

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10 Nikki September 29, 2009 at 8:07 pm

At last, a gumbo I want to try. Susan, I've been reading your blog for several years now and I have loved so many of your entries…and you inspired me to start my own food blog. Thank you!

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11 brannyboilsover September 29, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I know I would love this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

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12 royalflax September 30, 2009 at 2:06 am

I absolutely LOVE eating raw okra… right off the plant sounds dreamy <3

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13 Cheese Recipes September 30, 2009 at 6:38 am

Looks good & Healthy! Thanks or the recipe.

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14 SusanV September 30, 2009 at 7:59 am

Nicole and Moonwatcher: Feel free to use frozen okra. I use it during the winter, and while it's not quite as good as fresh, it's certainly acceptable.

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15 AudreyQ September 30, 2009 at 8:28 am

Susan, I love your blog. We're overrun with sweet potatoes from our CSA farm, and this sounds great, except for the okra, never have seen it up in NY. What's an acceptable sub that I can pick up at the farmer's market? Thanks.

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16 SusanV September 30, 2009 at 8:46 am

AudreyQ, I'm afraid that without okra, this won't be gumbo, but it could be a very nice stew. I would suggest adding more sweet potatoes and whatever fresh green vegetables you can find. Green beans would be nice, broccoli or zucchini if you add it toward the end. If it's too watery (okra provides thickening), you could use even more vegetables to increase the vegetable to broth ratio. Good luck! And do let me know how it comes out if you try it.

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17 Mary September 30, 2009 at 10:26 am

I've had PB in stew, and it is fabulous! I heard a story on npr recently that said okra was Americans' least favorite vegetable. What is wrong with people?!?

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18 Sarah Johnson September 30, 2009 at 8:42 pm

For folks that don't have okra, you might try using gumbo filé (ground sassafras leaves) to thicken and flavor the gumbo. I live in WI, but can still find filé in the spice section of the grocery store.

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19 G3 September 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I made this for dinner and had it with Quinoa instead of Brown Rice. This Gumbo was delicioussssssss & very filling!!!

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20 ecath October 1, 2009 at 9:57 am

Amazing! My sister loves okra so much. I think she will definitely like this. Thanks!

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21 the twins October 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm

That looks great! I love gumbo, but i've never actually made it before.

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22 mustardseed October 2, 2009 at 12:04 am

Wow, awesome! I like gumbo, and I LOVE peanut butter.

What kind of pot is that? It looks awesome and user friendly. I only have metal pots, yours looks so much easier to do non stick cooking!

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23 GeorgiaPeachez October 2, 2009 at 7:47 am

Sounds fabulous and I will give it a try. I grew up in the south and I LOVE okra. Just slightly boil it for me, I like it slimy. My mom always made "succotash" and froze tons of it by just cooking together fresh okra, tomatoes and corn off the cobb.
Be sure to leave some okra on the bush and when the season is over cut them off leaving a good stem. Once dried they make a beautiful arrangment in a vase. Okra is a member of the mallow family, same as hibiscus. xo, suzy

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24 Anonymous October 2, 2009 at 9:17 am

I was a little nervous about this recipe especially because I never worked with okra before. I should not have doubted you…It was delicious!

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25 Nancy October 2, 2009 at 3:11 pm

This is a great recipe with everything I love. I'm trying to switch to fat free but it's a little difficult. Thanks for this recipe!

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26 Mandie October 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm

what is the serving size amount? would you say it's about 1 cup? it would just help to know so that i can store it accordingly. thanks! this looks deeeelicious!

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27 Ms. J October 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Huh. I've been following your blog for awhile, but I didn't know you lived in Mississippi. I just moved to the state myself, but unfortunately I'm not near Jackson or any vegetarian restaurants!

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28 SusanV October 3, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Mandie, I didn't check the amounts but if you can divide it into six equal containers, you could figure it out. We had 6 good-sized servings, probably about 1 1/2cups or more.

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29 Kathy October 4, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Just made this tonight, using frozen okra- the hubby and I both loved it! Thanks for the tip about the baking soda, too!

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30 Queen B. October 5, 2009 at 8:51 pm

yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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31 dining table October 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

My first taste of okra was not nice that is why I am still having a hard time appreciating the okra. But anyway, i got to try this one since it is getting cold and soups are what we need for cold nights.

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32 Lovliebutterfly October 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm

It's been ages since I last had okra! I love it. Looks very hearty!

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33 Ellie! October 10, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I just made this today, and it is delicious! This is my first encounter with okra (I bought it on a whim). I don't even usually like sweet potatoes, but it was perfect in this!

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34 TINA October 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Just Made this, and it was DELICIOUS. I added some corn chipotle salsa midstew and used Yams instead… PERFECT fall meal, I know I'll be repeating this lots!

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35 decorators fabric October 12, 2009 at 8:47 pm

OMG!!! That sweet potato, okra and chickpea gumbo looks so delicious. Thank you for posting its ingredients and directions on how to make it. I will try to do it at home. LOL!!!

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36 Half-Assed Vegetarian October 16, 2009 at 9:48 am

This looks really interesting. I've never made gumbo with sweet potatoes before. Can't wait to try it! As always, thanks for the great ideas.

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37 caroline October 20, 2009 at 4:02 pm

I made this last night and it was really good! For those that are having trouble finding fresh okra, ethnic grocery stores typically have it.

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38 Anonymous October 26, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Hey! I want to go vegan so bad now! My aunt is so now seeing these recipies, I want to be one too! Maybe I will open an all vegan cafe! Just a thought… :)

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39 raja October 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm

i am going to try this recipe tonight, but I was wondering do you ever post other statistics about your dishes such as cooking time vs. prep time or how many servings a dish will yield?

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40 SusanV October 28, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Hi Raja–The number of servings is at the end of the recipe, but there are so many variables in figuring out the cooking and prep time that I haven't tried to add that. Maybe one day!

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41 Anonymous January 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm

making this for the 3rd time, nice dish for those cold days.

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42 Suzi April 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I made this yesterday. Today’s leftovers were amazing! It’s the first time I cooked with okra, and it definitely won’t be the last! Of course it’s not a very local thing here in atlantic Canada but it was totally nice to finally be able to cook some legit gumbo as a treat! The TB of PB is a wicked addition to add some subtle flavour. I love african groundnut stew anyway, but just a hint of it worked totally well here.

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43 Basil August 5, 2010 at 7:19 am

This was my first time trying okra, and I thought it wouldn’t be too scary in this delicious gumbo. I knew that I would like it from the get-go. Such a fabulous combination of ingredients! Alas, it turns out okra is not my thing, but I really like your suggestion of replacing it with other veggies and making a stew out of it. Great recipe!

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44 Ben August 5, 2010 at 9:51 pm

This was a great summer dish! A bit hot in New England today to be cooking up a stew but I was determined. I couldn’t find my liquid smoke (a fact which saddens me) and I ended up substituting black beans for Chickpeas because I seem to be the only one in my household that enjoys Chickpeas… Oh, and I threw some Field Roast sausage in too, just to add some of that meaty gumbo flavor and consistency I miss from my meat eating days (that said, I don’t miss meat).
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It hadn’t occurred to me to make Gumbo even though it’s been on my mind recently.

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45 najoiw September 20, 2010 at 6:21 pm

i just read it and i am going to try it hope its good and i am going to leave out the pb i have allergies.

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46 Lisa Goulet March 23, 2012 at 8:14 am

I made this soup last night and my husband and I were blown away by how good it was! I could live off this soup, anytime of year, chock full of fresh vegetables and spicy broth, a new favourite for sure! Thanks. :)

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47 Michelle B May 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Thanks, Susan. I made this tonight and it was delicious! Even though I’m up here in Boston, I’ve always loved okra, so a gumbo recipe from a native Louisianan is a real treat. Tell me though, is authentic gumbo considered more of a soup or a stew? I think I have a tendency to “stew-i-fy” things that are meant to be soups.

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48 conz June 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm

same here! ive just madr it for second time, and halved the water. is it no longer gumbo? lol

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49 Susan Voisin October 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

I think of gumbo as more of a soup than a stew–higher broth to “solid” ingredients ratio.

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50 Nanci June 26, 2012 at 8:02 am

I hesitated to leave a comment, but I’m wondering if I did something wrong. I have made many delicious recipes from this site, but this one flopped! I followed the instructions faithfully, down to to the pinch of baking soda, and it was just VERY watery. Not a “gumbo” at all, but just a brothy soup. Also it made waaaay more than 6 servings. 4 of us ate BIG bowls of it, and there was a ton leftover. I’m wondering now if I measured the broth/water (I used half and half) wrong? The only added liquid was, I did not drain the tomatoes, and I whirled them through the blender because I don’t like chunks of tomato in soups.

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51 Susan Voisin June 26, 2012 at 8:12 am

I’m sorry it didn’t turn out well for you, Nanci! The only thing I can think of is did you cover the pot? I leave the pot uncovered, so much of the liquid boils off (I often have to add more). I’m looking at the recipe and see I didn’t specify that in the instructions. Sorry about that! I hope you find some way to make it better–maybe add some more vegetables to it.

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52 Michael Brown July 7, 2012 at 2:29 am

Dear Ms. Voisin: I just discovered your wonderful website, and would very much like to try your sweet potato/okra/chickpea gumbo using a pressure cooker. As I’m a bit new at this, could I impose on you to recommend any modifications to the recipe ingredient amounts (less water, maybe?) you might consider appropriate, as well as a cooking time? I would be using cooked garbanzos.
Thanks,
Mike

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53 Susan Voisin July 7, 2012 at 8:02 am

Mike, you can probably do this in 5 minutes in the pressure cooker, but you will need less water (maybe 6 cups instead of 8). I’m not sure if that will be enough time to develop the flavors, but it will overcook if you give it more time than that.

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54 Michael Brown July 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Thank you for your advice, Susan. Perhaps I should just skip the pressure cooker and take the long way home.
Mike

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55 Lauren September 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Just wanted to say I love your blog and make your recipes often. I made this one a long time ago and remember loving it. However, I made it tonight and I found that 8 cups of broth is wayyyy too much. Maybe 4 cups would work. Did anyone else find this? Mine didn’t look like the picture at all. It was very brothy instead of stewy. It was a quick fix, though. I strained out the chunky soup and then poured the rest of the broth back into my vegetable broth carton.

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56 Esther J September 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I did notice it to be rather soupy, but then (afterwards) I noticed where Susan later commented that she cooked with the top off, thus allowing much of the water to escape.

Next time, I’ll probably reduce the liquid if I choose to cook without a top, but it actually didn’t bother me much. Served over rice, it turned out more like a stew.

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57 Susan Voisin October 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

It’s supposed to be somewhat soupy because you serve it over rice, but I cook it uncovered and sometimes even add water as it cooks.

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58 Esther J September 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Oh my, Mrs. V., this is delicious!

I don’t think I’ve ever had an “authentic” gumbo, so the distinct peanut taste is new to me, but one which I absolutely love!

I used this as a late-summer one-pot meal (as I had a lot of garden-grown okra given to me by a friend), and I am so happy I did. Definitely will be making this again. Easy, relatively quick, and so very yummy.

I added a little more hot pepper sauce for a bigger kick, but no other changes.

Thank you, Ma’m. :)

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59 Alexis C. March 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

This was absolutely delicious! My husband and two out of three kids loved it! (The other kid doesn’t like ANYTHING, lol!)

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60 Sharon B October 10, 2013 at 1:47 pm

This is amazing! I was at a loss for what to do with all the okra and sweet potatoes in from our CSA. I made a few improvised adjustments based on what I had on hand at the moment (used red bell pepper, didn’t have celery or liquid smoke or bay leaves on hand, used some tomato sauce instead of tomatoes). My husband enjoyed it as well and has already asked for me to make it again!

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61 April November 26, 2014 at 11:18 pm

I have used many of your recipes in the past and just stumbled upon this recipe by accident. I happened to also have some okra and decided to try this, as I always have difficulty trying to figure out what to do with okra! It was delicious and everyone in my family loved it and had second and third helpings! (: I made one addition: stirred in about a 1/4-1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, to use up the last batch I made. I couldn’t detect the taste and no one else did either. I found it made the soup a little creamier.

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