This gumbo is a variation on the ones I grew up eating during my childhood in the South. In this version, I use a generous amount of tomatoes and add carrots to the traditional gumbo medley of onions, bell peppers, and celery.
8 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrot
3/4 cup diced, seeded red bell pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
, plus more if needed
3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
, plus more if needed
3 cups chicken stock, plus extra if needed or 3 cups chicken broth powder
, plus extra if needed
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained well
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves
, broken in half
12 ounces okra, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
6 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 cups cooked white rice
To make roux, heat 4 tablespoons oil in a medium, heavy skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and turns deep reddish brown, for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large, heavy, deep-sided pot set over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion, celery, carrot, and red bell pepper. Sauté, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in cayenne pepper, thyme, 3/8 teaspoon salt, and 3/8 teaspoon black pepper. Add stock, tomatoes, parsley sprigs, and bay leaves, and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low so that mixture stays at simmer, then whisk in reserved roux.
Simmer gumbo until vegetables are tender and mixture has thickened, for about 20 minutes.
While gumbo is simmering, cook the okra. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add okra and sauté, stirring, until just lightly browned around the edges, for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add okra and sausage to the gumbo after it has simmered 20 minutes. Cook for 1 minute to heat through. (Gumbo can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat to proceed with this recipe.)
When ready to serve, add shrimp to the gumbo and cook until the shrimp curl and turn pink, for about 3 minutes. Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough. Taste gumbo and season with salt and pepper, as needed. If soup is too thick, thin it with extra stock to desired consistency.
To serve, place about 2/3 cup rice in 6 shallow soup bowls and ladle gumbo over rice.
Instead of letting okra (that traditional gumbo ingredient) simmer for a long time in the stock, I slice it and sauté it separately, then stir it into the soup at the last minute. Prepared this way, the okra holds its shape and doesn't become stringy. Finally, I employ a quick-cooking method for making roux, the flour-fat mixture (in this recipe I use vegetable oil) that thickens the gumbo.
Served over mounds of white rice, this soup makes a delectable main course.