Here in New England, we have two cultural soups: Clam Chowdah, and Lobster Bisque. People travel here for these soups. They make it a summer staple to go to Bahstan and get some clam chowdah (after pahking the cah in Hahvaad yahd… okay, enough of the stereotypical Boston lingo). I am not one of these people. I have a seafood allergy, and even then just the idea of chowder makes my stomach churn.
I like something that packs a little more of a punch. Something rich and howling and sassy. Something… from Louisiana.
I’m a gumbo girl.
I discovered gumbo in college, watching The Princess and the Frog, of all things.
Okay, so the gumbo doesn’t look all that appetizing. But it’s a cartoon, of course it doesn’t! Fact of the matter is, gumbo’s a soup and soups don’t photograph well. See, I’ll prove it to you: here’s the one that I made a couple weeks ago:
Soups don’t need to be pretty. Soups need to taste like heaven. This one left my apartment smelling like a classy creole restaurant and tasted like dreams, so that’s really all I ask from the world.
Gumbo is a one of those foods that makes your entire house spell like spice and soul. It’s the type of food that digs deep down and blossoms with warmth, wrapping around your heart and giving you that cozy feeling right into your bones. If you’ve never had gumbo – whether it’s traditional New Orleans style, or even a homemade version like mine, you’re missing out. I know this isn’t a bookish post, but at the moment I am feeling pretty passionate about making sure everyone in the world has tried gumbo at least once, so here’s my recipe, and I hope you think it’s delicious. I do!
- 1 c. flour
- ¾ c. vegetable oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1½ qts (48 oz) chicken broth
- 4 andouille sausages (I like Aidele's), chopped
- 1 tbsp. hot sauce
- 1 tsp. creole seasoning
- 1 tsp. cajun seasoning
- 3 bay leaves
- rice (optional)
- chopped green onions (optional)
- 3 c. chopped chicken (pre-cooked)
- First you need to make a roux. YOU HAVE TO BE PATIENT. Add the flour and vegetable oil to your large stock pot and stir CONSTANTLY on low with a whisk. If you stop stirring, the roux will burn, and you'll have to start over. Stir the roux until it is a deep chocolate brown; this takes about an hour.
- Once your roux is beautiful, add your chopped onion, pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot. Simmer, stirring constantly, for 6 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Bring it back down to a simmer, and add your sausage, hot sauce, seasonings, and bay leaves. Honestly, you can use one of the other on the seasonings - I like both. I also tend to be a bit generous on my seasonings, so feel free to use less or more to taste.
- Leave the pot uncovered and simmer for 1 hour.
- Add your chopped chicken, and simmer for another hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve with rice and topped green onions!
I know it’s a lot of work, but REALLY, you won’t regret it. Any good soup cooks slow and the way all these flavors blend together is magic. MAGIC. I promise.
If you try out this gumbo recipe, let me know how it turned out and if you liked it!