This classic soup is more than a meal in a bowl. It’s a way to show off the bright spicy flavours of Louisiana and the distinctive cooking style that has made gumbo one of the world’s great dishes.
Yield: Serves 4 - 6
1 cup any vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, seeds removed and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups chicken broth
6 ounces andouille, chorizo or Italian sausage, sliced
8 ounces shrimp, peeled and devined
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
4 ounces okra, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sassafras (gumbo file powder)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a sprinkle or two sea salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat.
Pour in the vegetable oil and, when it’s smoking hot, gradually and carefully whisk in the flour, forming a “roux.” Continue stirring the roux, whisking constantly until it begins to deepen in colour. Be careful, it’s very hot! This browning process weakens the roux’s ability to thicken the gumbo, but it also adds lots of authentic, distinctive flavour.
After 5 minutes or so, when the roux is a deep golden brown, add the Holy Trinity of Louisiana cooking: the onion, green pepper and celery. Add the garlic cloves and stir them for a few minutes until they’ve softened. Add the chicken broth and stir until it thickens. Add the sausage, shrimp, tomatoes, okra, herbs and spices. Taste and season with salt.
Simmer until the sausages and shrimp are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the green onions. Serve immediately.
Louisiana cooking is heavily flavoured and often quite spicy, so add more of the spices if you like. Try stirring in any seafood during the last few minutes of cooking. You may also omit the shrimp and substitute a chicken cut into pieces and browned.
Because ham is so versatile, our Sunday ham tradition means a different flavour every week. Baked ham is easy to prepare, and easy to personalize with the flavour of your choice because it goes so well with so many ingredients, including the ten variations detailed here.
Anytime I fire up my grill for supper I always look for a veggie to add to the works because grilling is not just for meat. Firm, juicy zucchini is an ideal candidate. This simple dish also shows how easily you can adapt the classic flavours of salsa to just about any fruit. Try it; you just might discover that you prefer peaches to tomatoes in your salsa!