When I met my husband down in south Louisiana, he was definitely not a soup man. He always said that "soup was not a meal." Now that we've lived in a four season environment for more than a decade, he's begun coming 'round to enjoying the comforts of soup in cold weather.
This week has finally brought an end to our drought, along with more sustained colder temps, so it's time to pull out the soup!
I am by no means any sort of cook, but enough non-family members have commented favorably on my gumbo for me to share it here:
I make this in a crock pot, but it could be simmered on a stove top, too. To about 4 cups of chicken broth (or you could use really any type stock or bullion, etc.) I add:
1 can of chopped tomatoes (about two small, fresh)
chopped onion (about equal to one half a small onion) - I keep chopped onion in my freezer
chopped green pepper (about equal to one half a small pepper) - again, I keep chopped pepper in my freezer
about a tablespoon of parsley
a couple of Bay leaves
plenty of ground pepper
about 7 dashes of Tabasco
about 7-9 dashes of Worchestershire
about a teaspoon of thyme
chopped garlic (about equal to 3 cloves, crushed) - I keep chopped garlic in my refrigerator
about a tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning
about a tablespoon of Tony Chachere's Seasoning
one rib of celery, chopped - this really is a "green" stew!
a little okra, chopped - I use frozen. My crew really doesn't like the okra much, but they think it's not gumbo without it, so I have to include a smattering of it....
2-3 pieces of chicken breast - you can really put any type of meats in a gumbo; it's meant for leftovers.
1 pound of a good sausage that you like - we use one from south Louisiana that's all beef and has no casing. It's called Manda's; but you can use any type that you enjoy.
As many small shrimps as you like. I buy the small, deveined, tailless and keep them in my freezer.
You could also use leftover turkey, pork chops, other seafood such as crab, etc. You can do a gumbo with only one type of meat or several.
I don't put the two most important things in until near the end: the roux and the file'. File' gumbo can be found in most spice aisles. It's ground sassafras. You should sift a little of it onto the top of the pot; just enough to cover the top, then stir that in. It has little pieces in it, which is why it's best to sift it in.
To make a roux, take a small iron skillet and add about three big wooden spoonfuls of flour and about half a stick of butter. Heat on high or near high until the mixture is bubbly and the consistency of pudding (add more flour or butter to get it right). I'd say it takes about 3-5 minutes to make it. Let it get to a mud brown color, stirring constantly, then add it to the gumbo pot, stirring in. (Don't let it pop on you as a roux burn is worse than an oil burn. I've never, ever had it pop.)
This gives your gumbo the brown saucy look that is characteristic of that dish.
Serve over rice for a complete meal (or maybe you'd like cornbread with it, too)....
Tonight we made a cream-based soup that we all like.
We take a can of butternut squash (or you could use fresh, cooked squash)
and add the same amount of chicken broth to it (about 16 oz.),
a pint of half and half (or we use cream), then season with:
about a teaspoon of onion powder
a dash of garlic powder
about 7 dashes of Worchestershire sauce
about two teaspoons of cinnamon
plenty of pepper (we use white, but you could easily use black, too)
Whisk it all together and let it come just to a boil, then remove from heat.
It's yummy! If you don't want a bisque, you could add in chopped onion and celery, carrots, etc. You could give this more oomph with some crumbled bacon, and/or chicken, and/or some white beans, too....