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New Orleans Gumbo

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Spicy Gumbo

shrimp-gumboA gumbo is a soup or stew that's full of spice and rich flavors, and it's the perfect warm-up meal for a cold winter's day.  With roots in Louisiana and the Southern Gulf Coast, gumbos are thick, hearty, and zesty.  This year, why not learn to make your own gumbo?  No matter what part of the country you're in, the hungry campers at your campsite will be sure to thank you.

The base of any good gumbo is a thick stock, usually a meat or shellfish stock.  Gumbos also rely on the "holy trinity," a mixture of celery, bell peppers, and onions, for its signature flavor.  Chefs differ on the type of thickening agent they use to turn this rich soup into a stew.  Whether you use pureed okra, file powder (ground, dried sassafras leaves), or a roux (a mixture of butter or oil and flour) to thicken your creation, you're still making authentic gumbo.

Gumbo comes in many different types.  Seafood gumbo is probably the most famous, and can be made with crab, shrimp, crawfish, fish, or oysters -- or a combination of these.  Other types of gumbo include File Gumbo, which uses chicken or sausage, Gumbo Ya-Ya with hard-boiled or poached eggs, beef gumbo, duck and oyster gumbo, and rabbit gumbo.  Turkey and sausage gumbo is popular after Thanksgiving, when cooks are trying to use up the extra turkey in the fridge.  Vegetarians can also make a Green Gumbo, or Gumbo Z'herbes that has vegetables but no meat.  Gumbo is often served over white or parboiled rice.

Gumbo Z'herbes is a popular dish during Lent, on Holy Thursday, or on Good Friday.  It literally means "greens gumbo" and the dish includes the basic stock and thickener, plus different types of greens like collard, mustard, turnip, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, chard, parsley, or scallions.

Here's a gumbo recipe you can try at home or on your next camping trip.

Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo

1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 box (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 box (14.5 oz) beef broth
1/2 lb. chorizo sausage, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 lb. medium shrimp, shelled & deveined
Several cups cooked rice


In a large soup pot, heat oil over med-low heat. Gradually add in flour and stir, not allowing the mixture to burn.  Let it cook until it's light brown, stirring, about 10 minutes. Pour in the broth and mix until blended.

In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until hot. Add celery, garlic, green pepper, onion, and green onion tops, and cook until vegetables are tender.

To the roux-thickened broth add the stewed tomatoes, chorizo, herbs, salt, black pepper and the vegetables.

Add 4 cups of water and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Skim off any fat that comes to the surface.

Add the shrimp and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn opaque.

More soups and stews.