Cowboy Gumbo

I love to cook (it’s the cleaning up after part I hate!).  And I confess, too, that I like to experiment in the kitchen.  I call it being creative.  My less generous friends call it my inability to let well enough alone. <g>    Anyway, I especially like hearty dishes that I can make a big batch of and freeze portions of for later use.  The recipe below is one such.

Gumbo is, of course, known as a cajun favorite, and every cajun cook has her own recipe.  For instance my momma’s gumbo was quite different from my grandmother’s, and mine isn’t like either.  And this version is different from any of the above.  For this one, I’ve added a bit of chili powder and tomato paste to give it a little western twist (not entirely my idea – I saw the concept in a magazine and then added my own spin to it). 

Gumbos are very versatile – I just use whatever meats I have on hand (For instance, it’s a great way to use leftover turkey from those holiday meals!)



  • 1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 5-6 cups chicken or seafood stock (can substitute water if this is unavailable)
  • 1 can (12-15 oz) diced tomatoes (if you’d like an extra kick, use the kind with chopped green chilies or southwestern style)
  • 1 can (6-8 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespons Worchestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb sliced okra (best if sauteed separately with ½ teaspoon vinegar until ‘slime’ is gone)
  • 4 lbs meat – any one kind or a combination of your favorites.  Meats that work well in a gumbo are Sausage (cut into ½ inch slices), deboned chicken or other fowl, pork, shrimp, crawfish, crab or even game meats
  • Tobasco sauce or liquid crab boil to taste (optional)



  • Use flour and oil or butter to make a roux. 
    Do this by combining the two ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cooking over a low heat,  stirring constantly until the mixtures turns the color of a copper penny (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Add garlic, onions, green onions, celery and bell peppers.  Cook until tender
  • Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT okra (and shellfish if applicable) and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes
  • Add okra (and shellfish if applicable).  Return to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer for another twenty minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves, skim excess oil, and serve over rice.

Leftovers (if there are any!) can be frozen for later consumption.

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

17 thoughts on “Cowboy Gumbo”

  1. Hi, Winnie, and thanks for sharing your recipe. It looks similar to one I’ve made called “Cheeseburger Pasta Soup.” Very hearty. We should get another cold front through soon and I’ll try this one.

  2. Ah – I see there are another couple of nite owls still up like me.

    Victoria – Cheeseburger Pasta Soup sounds yummy – you’ll have to send me that recipe.

    Julie – the okra tip came from one of the best cooks I know – my mom!

  3. Hi Winnie, I can’t wait for the weather around here to cool down so I can try this. Yummy! My hubby is the chef around here–I do the clean-up–but once in a while I take charge. A soup lover, I gotta try this one.

    (P.s. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I even like the dumb Campbell’s canned gumbo…a comfort food from my childhood.)

  4. Hi Tanya – no need to be embarassed on the canned gumbo admission. I do that myself occassionally when I’m in a hurry or just feeling lazy and the gumbo craving hits me 🙂

  5. Any variation on a fav is a good variation, Winnie, so I’ll have to try this. And yes, there are lots of different gumbos. Some have no okra, but use extra gumbo file–which is not just a seasoning but a thickener. And some are designed to be thin. My daughter’s Cajun in-laws informed me that gumbo with okra was Summer gumbo, while winter gumbo was more like a thin meat/seafood brown stew without okra or tomatoes. Makes sense as the Cajuns used what they had, but who knew?!

  6. This sounds so yummy, Winnie! I never knew how to make real gumbo. Growing up I had Cambell’s Chicken Gumbo soup. I remember it had okra in it. Not quite the same thing. Can’t wait to try this.

  7. Phyliss – Glad you like the recipe

    Jennifer – Hi! My grandmoter always used file in her gumbos (I never have). I will sometimes make the thinner, stew variety as well. I’ve never heard the summer vs. winter thing, but yes, that makes sense

  8. Winnie, I’ll bet this fills the whole neighborhood with tantalizing smells when it cooks. I love gumbo, but I don’t get it very often. You’re so lucky to live where it’s one of the staples. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m going to make sure I print it out.

  9. Tracy – If you try it, be aware that this one is a little spicier than most gumbos (but that’s how I like ’em)

    Mary – LOL. If you’ve ever dealt with okra you know exactly what that ‘slime’ is in reference to

  10. I know exactly the slime you’re talking about Winnie. But we are in mixed company here. Genteel company. For heaven’s sake.

    Much better to call it….thinking….thinking… how about gelatinous goo? Much more refined.

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