Friday, January 20, 2012

The rain is back - and so are my soups!

Can I tell you how much I've been missing the rain?! So glad it's back! And that means it's soup-time. Warm and comforting bowls of it. Actually it doesn't need to rain for me to crave soup, it's been so chilly up here that I've made chicken n dumpling soup twice in the last few weeks. Wednesday, while juggling work at home, I made one of my favorites - Gumbo. Now, the funny thing is I thought, have I blogged this recipe before? so I searched in the upper left corner and there it was -but hold on! That was my very first blog post - July 2009 - I can't believe it's been that long - but wait - no recipe! Too funny! Well for those of you who have been waiting with baited breath - here you go! And yes it does get better with age - I'm planning on my last bowl for lunch today. The only thing that doesn't age well is the leftover rice. After the first night I've just been soaking fresh french bread in it - if you really get tired of eating it, go ahead and freeze it. But can that be possible??

Gumbo serves 2 for days and days - or you could share

The Roux - this is the first step in making a really good gumbo. Since it's a little bit of a pain to make I do a double batch and then freeze 1/2 - that way you are good to go next time.
1 cup vegetable oil (do not use olive oil - too much flavor)
1 cup flour
In a large, cast iron skillet on high heat the oil until hot and then whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly - be careful - you splatter this on your skin and you will BURN. For Gumbo, you want a pretty dark roux - I try to get it to a dark brown, reddish color - just watch it - you don't want it to burn because you will have to start over. This should take about 5-7 min. Carefully remove about 1/2 to a heat proof bowl and let cool and then you can freeze this for next time.

1 onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1 red pepper chopped (I know, most Cajuns use green, but I just like the sweetness of the colored ones)
2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme's seafood spice (available at most grocery stores)
1 clove garlic chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound andouille sausage sliced into rounds
about 1/2 of a roasted chicken pulled into bites (you could cook your own, but to make this easy I just get a good quality roasted chicken at my local grocery)
1/2 pound large raw shrimp - peeled
1 tablespoon gumbo file (this is ground sassafras - you should be able to find at your store)
1/4 pound lump crab meat (this is optional - it's in season here right now - I like to just sprinkle a little on top)
cooked white rice
Tabasco to serve

So, once your roux is to the right color turn down the head and add your chopped onions, celery and peppers and saute until soft, about 10 min. Sprinkle over the spice mix and cook another 2 min. Lastly, add the garlic and let cook 1 more min. In another large pot heat your stock and then gradually whisk in the roux-veggie mix. Keep whisking until it's all incorporated and thickening the broth. Add the sausage and chicken and cook on a low boil for about 10 min. Finally, add the shrimp and cook only 3-4 min. Sprinkle over the file. Mound some rice in a bowl and pour around the gumbo and then the crab if using. Let the warming begin.

Post Note: I think calling this soup is a little bit of a misnomer. Some people I know think of soup as a thin broth with maybe a little noodle. I think of soup as a meal - hearty and filling! And this one is definitely a meal!

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