Louisiana Soul Food…Call It Gumbo

When I hear the name Louisiana, the first thing that comes to mind is New Orleans. I can’t help but think of the soulful jazz music played on street corners and night clubs throughout the city. When I think of Louisiana, I also think of all the wonderful food. Cajun or Creole…the food has its origins from the French and Spanish settlers and the Africans slaves brought to the area. The most famous dish from this gulf coast state is gumbo…what I think of as Louisiana soul food.Louisiana Soul Food...Gumbo

Louisiana Soul Food…Call It Gumbo

A bowl of hot, steaming gumbo will put a smile on anyone’s face. As far as gumbo recipes, there are as many as there was cooks in the region. It can be made with seafood, chicken,  sausage or a combination of all three. It can be prepared with alligator from the swamps and served on the front porch of a house on a bayou or in an elegant restaurant with exotic ingredients.

My version is a recipe that I have adapted over the years. I usually prepare my gumbo with shrimp, andouille sausage and okra but you can prepare it with whatever you enjoy.

Louisiana Gumbo

The most important step to making a good gumbo is to start by making a roux. Now, you may be very familiar with roux as a way of making a gravy, etc. but the roux for gumbo is a different process. You take equal parts of oil and flour, whisk over medium heat until combined and then turn the heat lower and cook stirring constantly…not letting it burn until it has reached a color similar to a copper penny or peanut butter. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. This rich colored roux is what is going to make a successful gumbo. If you go on the internet, you can find a technique that does this step in an oven but I prepare mine the conventional way.

For this recipe, I use 3 Tbsp. of oil and 3 Tbsp. of flour. My recipe is for two very generous portions. If you are preparing this recipe for more, just increase the amounts but keep the same ratio.

  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 jumbo shrimp (8 – 12 per lb.) per person
  • 6 oz. andouille sausage, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 c. frozen sliced okra
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/3 c. red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle clam juice
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 c. shrimp stock (shrimp shells cooked in water can be used)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire or to taste
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco or to taste

In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the flour, whisk to make the roux. Cook, stirring constantly until the flour turns a dark brown, then set aside.

In another saucepan, sauté the andouille sausage, onions, celery and red pepper in the butter for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, and all the spices. Stir to combine, then add white wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the clam juice and stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the tabasco. Bring to a boil and add the roux. Let simmer for 10 minutes. If  the mixture becomes too thick then add a little more stock or water. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the okra and cook until tender. Add the shrimp and cook until just cooked through, about 3 or 4 minutes if using jumbo less for smaller shrimp. Do not overcook the shrimp.

If you have some jazz music, play it while you serve this gumbo over a bowl of rice. Place a bottle of Tabasco on the table to pass around, seasoning to your heat tolerance. Close your eyes, take a whiff of the steam rising from the gumbo and you will be in New Orleans. Enjoy your bowl of Louisiana soul food.

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154 thoughts on “Louisiana Soul Food…Call It Gumbo

  1. I just had my first taste of gumbo a few weeks ago and loved it! This dish looks great! I like that you used shrimp and sausage. That’s the route I would go too. 🙂

    1. Hi Kristy, Thank you for your nice compliment. I really like adding andouille sausage to gumbo…it adds such a smoky and spicy goodness to it.

    1. Hi Rosemary, Thank you for your nice compliment. I know a lot of people don’t like okra and it can be left out. I like to add it since the word gumbo is derived from the word okra.

    1. Hi Kay, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I do like spicy food and the recipe can be adjusted for heat.

  2. Looking good enough to eat, really like the look and the read about this – but I have stopped eating king/jumbo prawns – because the are really environment destroying – over here in Sweden they have a massive campaign against them – it’s the growers of the king prawn that destroys the nature, not the prawn – really sad news for me … because I love them, but I have decided I will give them up.

    1. Hi Viveka, Thank you for you thought provoking comment. I can understand where you are coming from and your decision. Of course gumbo can be made with many other ingredients.

  3. We love gumbo and I really like that your recipe is much more conservative on the oil side of things than most, I will have to try it. Your photo looks so inviting, all I need now is a fork!

    1. Hi Judy, Thank you for your nice comment. I really do try to cook with less oil when I can…using just enough for the recipe to work without losing flavor.

    1. Hi Tanya, Fresh okra is difficult to get in New Hampshire and I can only buy it frozen from one market. You will find that it doesn’t hurt the recipe to leave it out but I love adding it when available.

  4. Those are some fine, big shrimp you have there, Karen, and I love they yin/yang presentation…such a pretty photo! I love gumbo, but my husband won’t eat shrimp (too many growing up in Ft Lauderdale), so I have to eat it out when I can. Great sounding recipe!

    1. Hi Betsy, Thank you for your nice compliment. You don’t have to give up making gumbo at home. Use chicken and andouille sausage for your meat along with chicken stock.

  5. That photo definitely catches the eye and your recipe doesn’t disappoint. It looks and sounds delicious and, best of all, authentic! I must admit I’m not a big fan of okra but I wouldn’t let that prevent me from enjoying a dish of your gumbo. Not a chance!

    1. Don’t feel bad about the okra, John. It is one of those love it or hate it ingredients. The nice thing about gumbo…you can make it anyway you want and you won’t be wrong. I have had gumbo many times that doesn’t have okra in it and it wasn’t missed at all. Thanks for your nice compliment.

  6. Oooh this is a REALLY exciting recipe! I have been dying to make gumbo but have always been put off by the fact that so many of the “essential ingredients” – powders and spices – are things I can’t get where I live in France. This uses simple ingredients and relies on proper cooking techniques to get the right flavours. I love it and cannot wait to try it!!! Thankyou for sharing!

    1. Hi Katia, Thank you for stopping by and your very nice compliment. I think you will find the recipe is easy and really good. Hope you will be able to find all the ingredients. If you can’t find andouille sausage, any smoked and spicy sausage would be fine.

  7. Louisiana is one of the most important places on my very vague culinary map of the USA. I have seen so many tv programs about the famous New Orleans cuisine…
    Your recipe confirms all what I imagined about this cuisine: it looks fantastic, spicy and original.
    It’s funny because roux is usually made in France with butter not oil. I even thought it wouldn’t change the colour with oil… Also andouille, I suppose you know it thanks to all your numerous trips, is made with tripe (no meat only rolled tripe). I suppose andouille sausage from Louisiana is different.

    1. Hi Sissi, I think you would enjoy the Cajan and Creole cooking of Louisiana. I think I know the sausage you are referring to (my husband had it the last time we were visiting the Loire area…andouillette not andouille). Andouille sausage in our country is made from pork, onion, peppers and spices that is then smoked. The roux is made with oil and the color comes from the flour turning dark when cooked low and slow.

      1. Karen, thank you for the answer. Actually there are two sausages in France: andouillette and andouille. Both are made with tripe, but andouillette is smaller and thinner and served warm, while andouille is cut into slices and served as cold meat. They both may have a bit of meat or other offal, but the majority of the stuffing is made with tripe. Which one did your husband have? Did he like it? Many people hate them both…

      2. My husband and a friend both had the andouillette. Our friend hated it and had the waitress take it away from the table. My husband ate it and said it was good but then he likes tripe. I don’t care for tripe so I will remember that andouille is different in France and not order it. I’m always learning something from you…thanks.

    1. Hi CJ, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m one of the people who love okra however it is prepared. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

  8. What an exciting recipe this is Karen! I love Okra, and I’m dying to try it with Shrimp and andouille sausage! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Hi Karen – did you know that “okra” in French is called gombo? So if you make a gumbo with it, you’re making a gombo gumbo… although they don’t call gumbo that in French, but that would spoil the joke 😀 I’m a fan of gumbo myself – I love those big juicy looking shrimps!

    1. Hi Charles, Yes I did know that gumbo came from the French word gombo which means okra. Maybe I should have used your suggestion and named it Gombo Gumbo. Haha.

  10. Love your recipe… you took me and so many others down memory lane! Thank you and the photo is beautiful makes the recipe one that will be used!

    1. Hi RaeDi, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m happy that the post brought back nice memories. I hope you will enjoy the recipe.

  11. I love gumbo and jambalaya and one day I’m going to make them both from scratch. Until then, it’s Zatarain’s all the way. 🙂 But I DO add duck to the shrimp and smoked ham. Unfortunately, though I can find chorizo in town, andouille is not available.

    1. Hi Boleyn, The wonderful thing about gumbo is that you can make it your own. Chorizo has a smoky spicy taste and would be a good substitute.

      1. You are welcomed, Boleyn. Recipes are basically suggestions. Sometimes ingredients aren’t available but you can still make a good meal with substitutions. It may not have the exact flavors but it will be close, sometimes even better for our personal tastes. Gumbo has so many variants that I don’t think you can go wrong.

    1. Hi Jane, Gumbo is a dish that I think that you would really enjoy. It is nice to know that I have inspired you and thank you for your comment.

    1. Thank you so much Ducky, for your nice compliment. I have a theory when it comes to shrimp. The bigger the shrimp…less work cleaning, less likely to overcook and certainly a better presentation. I hope you will try making gumbo.

  12. Yum!…sounds delicious. I’ve never made gumbo although I do make jambalaya from time to time. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Taylor, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. If you like jambalaya, then I know you will like gumbo…easy and full of flavor.

  13. Karen, I love that you mentioned turning on some jazz music cuz I always cook and dine with music that compliments the food I’m serving!! Just makes it so much more fun! This sounds like a wonderful party dish to entertain with!

    1. Hi Linda, We have so many things in common including music while cooking. Gumbo is a wonderful dish when entertaining. And of course, we know that you have the perfect dessert to go along with this meal.

  14. My instantaneous thought upon seeing the picture of your gumbo was, “I want to eat that!” After reading your post I’m still feeling the same way. Sounds wonderful, especially with the jazz!

    1. Hi Marlene, Thank you for much for your compliment about the photo and recipe. I hope you will try the gumbo recipe and yes…jazz will make the meal perfect. Enjoy!

  15. When I caught a glimpse of the top of your photo I hit “Like” right away! What pretty colors and excellent flavors! I’ve never made gumbo and would like to try.. sooo glad you used a close up photo of this one! xo Smidge

    1. Hi Smidge, Thank you so much for your nice compliment and hitting the “Like” button. Knowing your joy of life…I think you would enjoy this recipe as it seems to be a lot like you…soothing jazz mixed with spicy flavors. I hope you will try gumbo.

  16. We lived in Gulfport, MS when I was 9 years old and I remember having gumbo the first time…I loved it. Yours looks scrumptious, as always. ~~Bliss

    1. Hi Eva, Thank you so much for your comment. One of the reasons that okra is used is for “that weird gel that oozes out of it”. Haha. When incorporated in gumbo, it is the thickener. Once cooked with the other ingredients…there is no more weird gel. I’m glad my explanation about the roux was useful as it is the most important step to a great gumbo.

  17. I first tried gumbo a year ago and I immediately fell in love with it, I can’t wait to make it myself, thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Beti, Thank you for your comment. I remember my first bowl of gumbo too. There are so many variations of the recipe. I have liked most everyone I have ever had…with the exception of one. It was so obvious that the roux had been burnt that I sent the dish back. Watch the roux like a hawk…remembering that the heat of the pan will continue to cook it a little further even off the heat.

    1. Hi Donna, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment. I know you must have enjoyed your time in New Orleans and learning to prepare gumbo.

  18. I love gumbo! I am going to try adding shrimp in it like yours. Thanks for sharing! Gives me a plan for meal next week. Gumbo also sounds really nice right now because of the cold weather here.

    1. I think you will enjoy the gumbo with shrimp when you make it next week. Let’s hope that warmth will replace the cold weather soon.

    1. Thank you Tandy, for your nice comment. There is a lot of stirring to get the roux the proper color but after that making gumbo is easy.

  19. I must admit this looks really good…and it’s been years since I’ve had gumbo! I saw some of the okra comments, and you know, I really love okra. I think that’s unusual for a California girl, but my grandma was from the south and I first learned to like it fried! Now I’ll eat it anyway I can get it–which isn’t really very often. This is such a thorough recipe and I’m sure a real crowd pleaser! I don’t think there are many places out here we could even get a good bowl…it would need to be home cooked! Debra

    1. Hi Debra, Okra does stir up controversy…I’m with you I love it and my favorite way is fried as well. I hope you get a chance to make gumbo, enjoy!

  20. I haven’t made gumbo for years but was totally addicted to it when I lived in Miami and I made it all the time when I came back home. Thanks for reminding me , Iove it

    1. Hi Tanya, I think we can get in a rut sometimes…making our favorite dishes over and over. Happy to have reminded you about tasty gumbo.

  21. My husband was in NO last month and I made him bring me back some Beignets from Cafe du Monde – soo good even if it was about 8 hours later. I would have loved it if he could have brought me back some gumbo – this is making me very hungry. The shrimp look gorgeous.

  22. My first Cajun food ever was at a wonderful little dive restaurant on the Texas/Louisiana border and I went crazy over their etoufee. Unbelievable flavors. I really should make more Cajun food at home. Those beautiful shrimp are inspiring. 🙂

    1. Hi Lea Ann, I love Cajun food and you can get some of the best in little dive restaurants where they start simmering their food early in the day. I cook a lot of shrimp…I guess it is from all the years of living in Texas and Florida.

  23. Wow stirring constantly for half an hour to an hour! I like gumbo but not that much that I want my arm to fall off! You must need a strong arm and patience for this special rue. I’m sure by the looks of it that it was worth it though!

    1. Hi Laura, It really isn’t that much work. I have my cutting board next to the pot so I can prep my other ingredients while keeping an eye on the roux. You can leave the pot as long as you keep a constant eye on it so it doesn’t go too dark and burn.

  24. Wow, that looks delicious! I’d love to try it when the ‘shrimp guy’s from Galveston start visiting our area again this spring.

  25. yum!!! do you have a good recipe for jambalaya? I did a mission trip to New Orleans after Katrina to help rebuild houses and this family that we repaired their flooring for made us the most delicious jambalaya! super hot and spicy, thick, and full of outrageously delicious flavors! I haven’t had as tasty of a jambalaya since then!

    1. Hi Cayla, What a wonderful thing to do and I’m sure the family was so grateful. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could get the recipe from the family that made you your memorable meal. I wish I had a recipe to give you but I don’t. Sorry.

    1. Hi Sharyn, Thank you so much for your very nice compliment. You are right…totally flexible when it comes to the ingredients and spiciness when preparing gumbo.

  26. I have never made a gumbo. Shocking. I look at this and wonder that I must be out of my mind. This sounds delicious and must get on with it. Clearly!

    1. Hi France, Thank you for your nice comment. I don’t think you are out of your mind…you just haven’t had the inspiration. There is always a first time for everything. Maybe now is the time to try gumbo, I think you will enjoy it.

    1. Hi Lora, Thank you for your nice comment. This will definitely take the edge off of winter’s chill and we have had some cold days lately.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jed. I know what you mean. I hadn’t made gumbo in long time and then I saw okra at the market and that did it for me.

  27. Karen, I haven’t had gumbo since I was in New Orleans…and must be at least 7 years ago. Yours looks delicious…very tempting.
    Hope you are having a great week 🙂

    1. Thank you, Juliana for your nice compliment. The gumbo in New Orleans is wonderful. I usually go to the Gumbo Shop for lunch on every visit. I’m glad you like my version and I hope you get a chance to prepare it. Have a great week as well.

    1. Thanks for the nice comment. While cooking…I like Dr. John. His raspy voice and the spicy gumbo just seem to go together but I love all jazz. You pick your favorite and I’m sure I would like it.

  28. I’ve heard a LOT about gumbo but have never actually had the real thing! Maybe I should just try to make it…your version sounds ridiculously delicious!

    1. Hi Joanne, Thank you for your nice compliment. I think you would like gumbo. You can make it as spicy as you want and use different seafoods or meats according to your taste.

  29. I’ve never tried any sort of gumbo before, but I’m so curious.. All of the spices and veggies sound really good. Maybe if I replaced the shrimp with tempeh, that could do the trick… Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Hannah, Thank for visiting and your nice comment. Gumbo is so tasty and can be made with so many different ingredients. I’m happy to have inspired you.

  30. Hi Karen—

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and commenting on my recipe. Your note inspired me to check out your own site, and the first thing I spotted was your recipe for Louisiana Gumbo, which I’ve never made. I’m printing it out now—looking forward to giving it a try!

    Glad to have discovered your blog.

    All best wishes,

    1. Hi Marci, I’m glad you stopped by for a visit. I hope you will enjoy the gumbo when you make it. Thank you for your nice comment.

  31. Oh yum. I had a next-door neighbor growing up who was from Louisiana, and I have never had a gumbo that tasted half as good as the version she served up. I will definitely try this one.

    1. Hi Virginia, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. I bet your neighbor’s gumbo was delicious. I hope you enjoy this one.

  32. I’ve never had the pleasure of going to either Lousiana or New Orleans, one day i’d love to. But what fascinated me most about this recipe was the roux you made, I hadn’t realised that was how gumbo could be prepared. That’s a lot of whisking!

    1. Hi Claire, There is a lot of whisking indeed to keep the flour from burning and only turning coppery brown. If you get a chance to cross the pond, New Orleans is a fun city to visit.

  33. This sounds delicious, okra included. 🙂 I think I’ll grab everything to make this at the store this trip. 🙂

    Thanks !

  34. This looks so good! I still have to sample Creole cooking and this recipe is just so difficult to ignore. A must-try. 😉

    1. Hi Malou, Thank you for your nice comment. It takes time to whisk the roux so that it doesn’t burn. Other than that…there is nothing difficult about the recipe. I hope that you will enjoy the dish.

  35. Your gumbo looks fantastic; so colorful and appealing! I have not tried making it myself yet, but my daughter made some a couple of weeks ago that was delicious.
    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I’m enjoying reading your posts and am a new subscriber now. Am looking forward to more!

    1. Hi Lynda, Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m so happy that you enjoyed my posts enough to subscribe and I look forward to your return. Thanks for your compliment about the gumbo.

  36. I have never made gumbo. This is not a dish you hear of very often here in Australia. I would love to try it. Thanks for giving me the recipe for something new!

    1. Hi Charlie, Thank you for your nice comment. No…this is a dish that would not be seen in Australia. One thing that I know for sure is that you have the wonderful seafood that would be great in this dish.

  37. What a wonderful meal! I love your recipe and can’t wait to give it a try. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  38. I have heard a lot about this southern dish, and then I tried the boxed one, ready to eat kind.
    and thanks so much for sharing this gumbo recipe, gives me hopes to try it, bookmarked.

    1. Hi Ashley, Thank you for your very nice compliment. I agree with you about smoked paprika. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor to so many dishes.

    1. Hi Marietta, New Orleans is so much fun and has such good and different food. I bet your husband’s gumbo is great. Thanks for your comment.

  39. Did you just say soul food. I’m trying to figure out where I was earlier in the week because I would’ve flew over here. I LOVE LOVE LOVE soul food.. maybe because I’ve eaten it all my life lol. Just look at that gumbo… I’m in love 🙂

    1. Thank you T.W. for your nice compliment. You know the old saying “it tastes like chicken”. At least the alligator I tried tasted that way when I had it while living in Florida.

    1. Hi Mary, Thank you for your compliment. New Orleans is always a fun city to visit but you can get the feeling without traveling far. You just need to visit your market for a few simple ingredients.

    1. Hi Lady Fi, Gumbo is actually easy to turn into a vegetarian recipe. Use a flavorful vegetable broth, okra, tomato, onions, red and green peppers with all the seasonings. Served over rice…it would be good. Thank you for your comment.

  40. YUM! I have never made it but I like to eat it. Strangely my neighbor makes it once a summer and it is delicious – she always gives us some. ( I say strangely because as far as I know she has no connection with the south and yet is a pro gumbo maker!)
    I also liked your “serving suggestions” as well as your tip in the comments about big shrimp – good idea because cleaning shrimp is a pain!

    1. Hi Carol, I’m glad you like my thinking. I like the biggest shrimp I can find. The less little legs to get rid of and cleaning of their bodies… the happier I am.

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