Mushroom and Tempeh Gumbo

by on November 15, 2013
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Mushroom and Tempeh Gumbo

Thanksgiving is about 2 weeks away, so I thought it was about time I posted an appropriate recipe. To me, this is “Thanksgiving Gumbo” because it contains mushrooms, sage, and thyme, all flavors that I associate with this time of year. Though it’s based on the Louisiana trinity of onion, peppers, and celery and it has a subtle heat that seems to grow with every bite, the herbal flavors make this a perfect dish for an “alternative” type of Thanksgiving. And who doesn’t like alternatives?

Mushroom and Tempeh Gumbo

Unlike most of my other gumbo recipes, this is a Cajun, rather than Creole, gumbo because it isn’t tomato-based. It is thickened with okra and a “dry” roux made with browned flour, which adds a smoky depth to the broth without any added fat. (Dry roux forms the base of my other Cajun gumbo, Gumbo z’Herbes with Tempeh Bacon, as well as Vegan Sausage and Mushroom Étouffée.) For those of you who need a gluten-free alternative, I’ve been told that chickpea flour works very well. Bon appetit, y’all!

Mushroom and Tempeh Gumbo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A food processor makes fast work of chopping the onions, celery, and peppers.
Serves: 6
Seasoning Blend:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more for more heat)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (use more for more heat)
  • 8 ounces tempeh, any variety (see note below for alternatives)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat (or gluten-free) flour
  • 6 to 7 cups “no-chicken” or other vegetable broth
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large (or three medium) ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 16 ounces portabella mushrooms, stemmed, sliced about 1/4-inch thick, and cut into inch-long pieces
  • 4 ounces sliced mushrooms, any type (I used a "gourmet blend" of cremini, oyster, maitake, and button mushrooms)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces sliced okra, fresh or frozen
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, to serve
  1. Make the seasoning blend by mixing all the seasonings in a small bowl.
  2. Cut the tempeh into 1/2-inch cubes. Place it in a mixing bowl and drizzle it with the soy sauce and mix well. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning blend, mix well, and set aside to marinate.
  3. Heat a large, dry soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the flour and toast, stirring constantly, until it turns the color of a paper bag and starts smelling nutty (see photo here). Be careful not to burn it, but if you do, wipe out your pan and start over. Remove from heat. Pour into a blender along with 2 cups of the broth and blend until combined. Set aside.
  4. Wipe out the pot and return it to the heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, adding water by the tablespoon if needed to prevent sticking. Add the celery and bell pepper and continue to cook another 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and 2 tablespoons of water and cover tightly. Cook until mushrooms begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  5. Give the flour mixture another quick whirl in the blender and add it to the vegetables, along with 4 cups of broth and the okra. Add all the remaining seasoning blend, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
  6. While the gumbo is cooking, brown the tempeh. Heat a non-stick skillet and add the tempeh in a single layer. Cook, turning often, until it is browned on all sides.
  7. After the gumbo has cooked for 25 minutes, add the tempeh and, if the soup seems too thick, another cup of broth. Cook for a few more minutes. Check the seasoning and add salt if you like. Serve in bowls over brown rice with Louisiana hot sauce on the table.
Feel free to substitute seitan, tofu, vegan sausages, or soy curls (no need to reconstitute) for the tempeh. For a less processed version, try using a couple of cups of cooked beans; add them with the okra along with all of the seasoning blend.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6th of recipe Calories: 286 Fat: 4.5 Carbohydrates: 50.3g Sugar: 4.8g Sodium: 541mg Fiber: 11.7g Protein: 15.5g

More Thanksgiving Recipes

For more Thanksgiving alternatives, be sure to check out my master index of Thanksgiving recipes and Pinterest board, as well as these great recipes from other vegan bloggers:



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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 laloofah November 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Since this is a brand new post, I obviously haven’t had a chance to try it yet. But I think I can safely say “YUM!” with confidence!!

Not sure I can find non-pickled okra in northern Wyoming, but I’ll stalk the frozen veggies sections of my local grocers to be sure. I hope it wouldn’t be considered heresy to omit okra in gumbo if it comes to that, though! 🙂


2 moonwatcher November 15, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Hi Susan,

This looks great–all the seasonings are just made for mushrooms!! Like laloofah, I am far far away from fresh okra but I noticed with glee in the last couple of weeks the co-op is now carrying frozen. (If it’s gotten as far as northern Idaho, laloofah, may it will make it to northern Wyoming someday. . .) Of course while reading the recipe, I was trying to think of less processed non-soy alternatives to the tempeh and it occurred to men when it got to the directions about browning the tempeh that maybe cubed eggplant would work. It would certainly make for a lighter soup, but I’m intrigued by that idea. I think white beans would also be good. And yes, I agree that chickpea flour is a good choice for a gluten-free roux.

I have the feeling this soup smells really really good, too. And I love the bowl. Is it pewter?

Thanks for another fun and tasty way to eat more mushrooms!




3 moonwatcher November 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm

looks like I hit the z instead of the x. . .guess I’m tired. . LOL . .Now I’m thinkin’ maybe roasting the eggplant cubes before adding them to the soup might be good, perhaps along with white or Japanese sweet potato cubes. . .


4 Emma November 16, 2013 at 3:38 am

This looks fabulous Susan! With the meaty mushrooms and tempeh I’m sure this would convince any omnivore that vegan food is worth a look 🙂
Adding this to the must try list!


5 Brenda November 16, 2013 at 6:38 am

This looks amazing, thanks! Making this for Thanksgiving for sure.

Did you happen to be in NO for the Gumbo Festival? All the booths had vegan options, my fave was the Gumbo z’Herbes with shiitake mushrooms, yum.


6 Marta @ What Should I eat for breakfast today November 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm

It must be amazing to celebrate Thanksgiving and then Christmas just few weeks later 🙂 Great recipe.


7 Mary November 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Hey Susan!
This looks fabulous. Thinking of trying it out over the weekend. Do you think I could make it work in my slow cooker?
All the best! M.


8 Susan Voisin November 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Except for the browning of the flour, I don’t see why not. Hope you enjoy it!


9 Christine (The Raw Project) November 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm

This looks wonderful, great flavor combo for a veganized classic. Thanks!


10 Kristen @ The Vegan Weirdos Next Door November 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I absolutely love bread pudding and is something I’ve missed since going vegan over a year ago. I can’t wait to try this out!


11 gpstogo November 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Just have to say how outstanding this and your other recipes are. They fit perfectly into the nutrition plan outlined for cancer survivors that I follow. What I particularly like are the spices and flavoring combinations you have. I’m going to make homemade tempeh this afternoon so I’ll be making this yet again.
You really saved the day for me with my cancer survivor nutrition and flavor. A million thanks. Barb


12 Stef November 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm

it’s beautiful! i’d love to try all this!


13 Wendy November 26, 2013 at 11:42 pm

This turned out really well, my husband loved it. Chipotle Tabasco sauce goes well with it. Thanks for another great recipe.


14 Stef November 30, 2013 at 11:32 pm

ah i love how this looks, you’re a pro, aren’t you?


15 Amy December 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm

My boyfriend made this last night and it is absolutely delicious! I’m eating a reheated bowl right now. Thanks for the recipe!

Question about tempeh- I’m one of the people who finds it to be bitter- do you think I could steam it for ten minutes to take out the bitterness first? Have you tried this? I’ve steamed it in strips before to take out the bitterness but not in cubes.


16 Susan Voisin November 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Yes, feel free to steam the tempeh first to take out some of the bitterness.


17 Sharine December 27, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Hi, Susan!

My husband and I are retooling our “mostly-vegan-but-occasionally-flexitarian” diet starting January 5, 21015, and I am searching my favorite foodie websites (like yours) for new culinary delights. This recipe looks delicious! I noticed that the ingredients list does not include Gumbo Filé (a.k.a., ground sassafras leaves). I have been under the impression for a decade or so that this herb is considered necessary for making gumbos. Is this perhaps a difference between Creole and Cajun food? Thanks!


18 Samantha July 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Would oat flour, brown rice flour or chickpea flour work here?


19 Susan Voisin November 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm

I think any of them would work, but I lean toward brown rice flour.


20 Soncco December 15, 2015 at 7:48 am

I absolutely love bread pudding and is something I’ve missed since going vegan over a year ago. I can’t wait to try this out!


21 Lisa February 3, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Can you steam tempeh in the microwave? I’ve never used tempeh because of this steaming, bitter concept seems complicated and scary to do all the work then have a bitter product if I don’t steam.


22 Susan Voisin February 3, 2017 at 12:18 pm

I do. I just slice or cube it and put it in some marinade and nuke it for 3-4 minutes. But I didn’t feel it was necessary for this recipe.


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