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Paprika Gumbo

Paprika Gumbo is essentially Louisiana soup or stew that has been seasoned primarily using paprika. Paprika Gumbo is vegetarian soup thickened by the okra.

Features of a Traditional Gumbo

• Gumbo itself may be defined as the soup prepared using meat with or without shellfish and rice.

• A "Vegetarian gumbo" would usually consist of an okra-and-onion soup, or thickened and flavoured onion-and-mushroom soup, with rice. However, traditionalists will not make a Gumbo without the use of okra.

• This dish is characteristically seasoned with garlic, onions, and ground cayenne pepper. Other popular seasonings such as white or black pepper, parsley, paprika, and bay leaves may also be added as per the individual’s personal preference.

• At times other vegetables may be added.

• Lastly, gumbo is normally served over rice. This makes a wholesome meal.

Ingredients and Preparation

A large pot of water is slowly brought to a boil. The chopped and deslimed okra is added next. The minced onion and garlic are sautéed with a little oil until the onions turn transparent. This is then added to the pot with liquid. The gumbo is reduced to a slow simmer and cooking continued. As the gumbo progressively thickens it is important to stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Paprika seasoning (or smoked paprika) is added at this stage along with other seasonings of choice and after another hour of slow cooking, a generous helping of it is poured over cooked rice in a bowl and served hot.

Tip: Desliming the okra is an important first step in which the heads and tails are cut off after cleaning, and then okra is chopped into thin slices. The sliced okra is placed in a skillet with just adequate oil to cover up the slices. On a low heat, the okra is stirred continuously till partially cooked and all sliminess lost.

Nutrition Information

A serving of ~200 g would supply: 361 calories, 15 g fat (with 3 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 49 g carbohydrates, 6 g fibre, 8 g protein, 795 mg sodium.

Nutritional Improvement

1. Mixed greens in any combination like collard, mustard, beet, turnip, kale, chard would add great value to the gumbo by providing Vitamins A, C, K and minerals like iron and calcium as well as fibre.

2. Broiling or grilling serrano peppers, banana pepper and a small jalapeno chilli pepper till skin blisters, steaming in a closed container, peeling the skin off and chopping them, makes them ready to be added to the gumbo for added smokiness, spice and great flavour. These would also add Vitamin C, potassium and help elevate the metabolism owing to the spice content.

3. Other vegetables that may be included are sweet potato, parsnips, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes and bell peppers all of which would add plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant nutrients.

4. Smoked tofu can add a distinct flavour and provide a variable texture to the gumbo with multiple health benefits.