The gumbo: the Louisiana stew

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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Il gumbo it is a typical dish of the areas overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, and is particularly widespread in the Louisiana.

This stew looks like a binomial, as the rice accompanied by a condiment, which can be chosen according to one's personal taste: usually seafood, Especially shrimp and crabs, but in other cases they are also added chicken, sausage or other meats, even mixed together. The characteristic ingredient, probably the one that arouses the greatest curiosity, is ocher: this fruit grows on plants belonging to the family ofibisco, both in Ethiopia than in other countries, including theSpain.

Origins and curiosities

This soup is also known as slave stew.

It is no coincidence that the word gumbo is the African term for ocher, as slaves used to bring this plant with them from the colonies. The origins of this dish, in fact, refer to the African slaves who lived in America; according to some sources, every week they had rations of wheat or corn flour and meat scraps, with which they tried to obtain a more refined soup, and also for this reason they cooked the ingredients on a low heat for longer.

Along with the spices, they finally added gumbo, which improved its texture.

So this ingredient is already the testimony of the encounter between different cultures, in fact it is also widely used in the kitchen creole. In general, the whole dish involves a mix between African, Spanish and French gastronomy; for example the long cooking times and the ingredients are Spanish, while the roux, that is the binding base very similar to a cream, varies according to nationality.

The roux is prepared by mixing the flour or l 'cornstarch al XNUMX/XNUMX cup salted butter or, alternatively, to another type of fat (making sure that the two parts have the same weight). For this soup it is preferable that the roux reaches a dark brown color, which means that it has been toasted.

After the end of the Confederation, many black people now emancipated, committed themselves to spread their culinary traditions also in the North, proposing new versions of the dish with better ingredients.

If you are a soup lover, follow the recipe!



  • 1 liter of shrimp broth;
  • 3 glasses of white wine;
  • 1 further;
  •  1 carrot;
  •  1 onion;
  •  1 clove of garlic;
  •  1 sprig of thyme;
  •   1 of tarragon;
  •  3 peppercorns;
  •  shrimp heads.

For the roux you need:

  • 150 grams of butter or the equivalent of extra virgin olive oil;
  • 130 grams of flour.

The recipe follows two stages. For the first phase we will need:

  • 3 yellow onions;
  • 2 yellow or red peppers;
  • 300 grams of okra;
  • 5 cloves of garlic;
  • 15 grams of thyme;
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a light sprinkle of cayenne pepper;
  • 3 bay leaves.

Finally, for the second phase you need:

  • 400 grams of shrimp;
  • 400 grams of sausage;
  • 5 spring onions;
  • bunch of chopped parsley.


To prepare the roux it is important to cook it for a long time, over medium heat, for about 20 minutes. To do this we must melt the butter in a pan and add the flour, using a sieve. 

For the shrimp broth, cut the vegetables into small pieces and wash and peel the shrimp.

Once this is done, we can add the vegetables to fry in a saucepan, over low heat, accompanied by 5 tablespoons of oil. Add the prawns by blending everything with the wine and starting to crush the heads of the prawns with a wooden spoon. Once this is done, we can add the other ingredients and a liter of water, continuing to cook for about an hour. 

We then move on to slice onions, peppers and ocher and add everything to the other ingredients, mixing and cooking for about 10 minutes. At the end of this phase we must add the broth and let it simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes.

Once this is done, add the sausages, prawns and cook for another five minutes. When the soup is ready we can taste and correct with pepper and cayenne pepper. The final touch will be the addition of spring onions and chopped parsley.

All that remains is to taste it, it will warm you up on the coldest days!

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