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Shrimp, Sausage and Crayfish Gumbo

My all-time favorite comfort food is soup.  This is what I turn to when I am feeling out of sorts or under the weather.A pot of homemade soup was the first thing I ever cooked by myself,  when I was still in elementary school, and it is still my favorite thing to make.
 A couple of years ago, I was the chef of a small restaurant, that was mostly known as a lunch time spot. The first thing I would make every morning  would be a big pot of soup. I loved coming up with a new soup every day. It is not just eating the soup that is comforting, it is the whole process of making the soup that I love. Alone in the restaurant,  listening to music, chopping vegetables and daydreaming, it was  the perfect way to start the day.

I made all kinds of soup..... Cream soups, Broth soups, Chowders and  once in a while I made Gumbo. Gumbos are a very thick soup, thickened with a dark roux, okra or file powder. The roux is made with equal parts fat and flour, slowly cooked until it is dark brown. The darker the roux, the better the flavour. File powder is made from ground sassafras leaves, added at the end of the cooking process, it thickens the Gumbo and adds a little extra something. I can't even explain the flavour, I just know that it makes the Gumbo taste extra delicious.

It is a little more time-consuming  to make than a regular soup, but the results are well worth the effort.I have been nursing a really bad cold all week, and  I was craving some comfort food, and  Damn! Did it ever hit the spot!

*Note* I used two ingredients that might be difficult to find, crayfish and file powder. Substitute cooked chicken, crab meat or other seafood  for the crayfish. The file powder is a thickening agent added at the end of cooking, make the roux with a little extra oil and flour than I have specified.( I have in-laws that spend a lot of time down South, they often come back with interesting products like file powder and crayfish)

Shrimp, Sausage and Crayfish  Gumbo

1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 ribs celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
about 1/2 lb. cooked hot Italian sausage or Andouille sausage, diced
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups  good quality chicken stock ( preferably homemade)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2  Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
pinch of brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 lb. of raw shrimp shelled and deveined
3/4 lb. shelled crayfish
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp file powder
hot cooked rice
sliced green onions

In a large heavy bottom pot,  cook oil and flour over medium- low heat. Stir constantly until mixture reaches a dark brown colour ( darker than peanut butter) watch closely, if mixture burns you will have to start over. This will take 30 to 40 minutes. Add celery, onions and green pepper. Cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and dry seasonings, cook one minute. Add crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire, cooked sausage, and chicken stock. Season well with salt and pepper.Simmer over low heat 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.Add shrimp and crayfish, let cook 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf.  Stir in file powder ( file should always be added at the end of cooking time or it will turn bitter) Serve over hot rice, sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions.

Serves 4 with leftovers

Tags: Gumbo, Soup, Seafood, Sausage, Main

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