Gumbo, although not regarded by purists as soup, is the Soupe de vie (Soup of Life) if you ask me. Actually, ask anyone who lives along the Gulf Coast. If you have good gumbo and a spoon, you are in for a well-seasoned venture into a bowl of nut-brown, opaque broth stocked with shrimp, crab, fish, and/or a variety of meats. The “Cajun Trinity” of onion, bell pepper, and celery and the all-important roux separates gumbo from anything else that comes out of a kitchen. Like a jazz improvisation, gumbo can be divinely atypical, reflecting a cook’s mood, whim, and available ingredients.
When making gumbo, you can substitute shallots, bell peppers of any color, Chinese celery, or the red stalks of bok choy. In other words, make the recipe your own. Of course, if you want to stick to the traditional aromatics (as I did for this post), your gumbo can still be a festive brew that is thickset with your favorite seafood, meats, or greens. Shrimp gumbo is a good start for the beginner. Cleaned and deveined frozen shrimp is easy to work with and saves cooking time. Litehouse Instantly Fresh Herbs are convenient, flavorful additions to gumbo. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Litehouse Instantly Fresh Salad Herb Blend works beautifully as a gumbo ingredient. It includes parsley, red onion, chives, shallots, garlic, and dill. Add a few shakes of this herb blend while the gumbo is simmering and its flavor is enhanced and deepened. If you prefer a hit of spice in the gumbo, add a pinch or two of Litehouse Instantly Fresh Jalapenos as well. Of course, once the gumbo is ready, it must be served with steamy rice-- gumbo’s natural counterpart. Top the rice with Litehouse Instantly Fresh Spring Onion and serve on weekday or a holiday. Anytime is great for gumbo.