Prep Time: 25 minutes | Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes
It’s Fat Tuesday and what better way to get into Mardi Gras mode than with a batch of homemade gumbo, the soup that defines New Orleans. But defining gumbo isn’t so easy; there are pretty much as many recipes as there are cooks who make it. The key things are a slowly cooked roux; the “holy trinity” of celery, bell pepper, and onion; and okra, the vegetable that gives gumbo its name (from an African word for okra). From there, it’s kinda up to you. So here’s my version, with andouille sausage and crabmeat. You can definitely throw in shrimp, too, but I prefer to make a batch of Louisiana-style barbecue shrimp to go alongside. And thanks to Julie Feldstein and Liz Hamilton for helping with these recipes.
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup flour
1 onion, chopped
1 green or yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tablespoons Cajun Spice Mix (see note)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chopped okra (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound andouille sausage
cooked white rice
2 teaspoons filè powder, (optional)
1/2 pound fresh crab meat
Sliced green onions
In the bottom of a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium-high heat and when it shimmers, whisk in the flour. Whisk for about 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it turns medium brown, almost the color of milk chocolate. This should take about 5 minutes so be patient: it’s actually a calming thing to do, standing there and stirring.
When the roux is browned, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and switch to a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Add the spice mix, Worcestershire sauce, okra, broth and water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the sausage thinly and cook it in a frying pan until it is browned and a little crispy; drain the slices on paper towels. In another pan, cook as much white rice as you want (I recommend using 1 to 1-1/2 cups raw rice).
When the soup is done, stir in the sausage, then sprinkle in the filè powder, if using (this is a traditional ingredient that slightly thickens the soup). Simmer the gumbo for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Divide cooked rice among soup bowls and ladle gumbo over rice. Plop a spoonful of crabmeat over each serving and sprinkle with green onions.
note: you can buy Cajun spice mix in some stores, but it’s easy to make at home by stirring together: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and 1 tablespoon paprika.