The autumn harvest is upon us and the cooler air puts soup on our mind nearly every day. The soul longs for comfort food as summer finally gives way to fall, but we want to keep things fresh and healthy. So, we headed off to the Sage Mountain booth at the Old Town Temecula Farmers Market to pick up our Inland Empire CSA box. The Inland Empire CSA offers a box of fresh, organic, locally grown produce each week and a multitude of convenient pick up locations. For more info, please visit: www.inlandempirecsa.com. Chef Andrea of Ava James Catering took one look at the bell peppers, onions, scallions and garlic and knew that we had all we needed to get our soup on. The farmers had okra available for us this week as well, so hearty, spicy gumbo is on the menu for a cozy Sunday supper.
3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil (as always, we used Temecula Olive Oil Company)
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped, plus a little extra for garnish
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped
4 cups hot water
5 beef boullion cubes
1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
2 cups fresh sliced okra
4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of butter and cook over medium heat, wisking constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.
Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley. This dish can be easily modified for our vegetarian friends by substituting vegetable broth for the beef boullion and water. By using tofu instead of meat, you will lose some of the spice, so we recommend adding cracked red pepper to taste.
Gumbo from scratch is a bit time-intensive, but the results are so worth it. The rich flavors, fresh veggies and spicy kick cannot be replicated from a box mix. We served this with a simple, crusty hunk of bread, but white or brown rice would be a great compliment as well. We look forward to many soups this season and know that the Inland Empire CSA will give us just what we need to create a wide variety for our family and friends to enjoy. Happily, Hawk Watch Six.Seven.Eight would pair perfectly with our gumbo.