Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shrimp Creole Soup with Okra

Laissez les bon temps roulez! Let the good times roll! Mardi Gras is here and it is one of the biggest parties around and this year there is so much to celebrate in New Orleans. Though there is no real written history of Mardi Gras it can be traced back to medieval Europe but it is New Orleans that made it famous with parades, kings, costumes and beads. Hot jazz fills the air and people stand shoulder to shoulder shouting for their beads as the beautiful floats go by in the myriad of parades to celebrate the holiday. The influence of many cultures, like the French-Canadian, Spanish, Creole and Acadian are everywhere. Each culture has kept its own identity but at the same time has assimilated with each other to make NOLA what it is in food, music and customs. That's kind of what I did with this recipe. Shrimp Creole and Shrimp Gumbo meet head to head in a wonderfully spicy, hearty soup. If you have a fear of okra, don't. I have divulged a few little secrets on how to remove its most dreadful characteristic and the ghastly slime is gone! Though my ingredients list looks daunting, don't worry about that either. Gather all your ingredients and have them ready to go. The easiest way to manage the variety of dried spices and herbs in this recipe is to just combine them all in a small bowl before you begin. It makes life so much easier than rummaging through your cabinets as the soup is cooking. Take your time with it, it's only soup. But what a soup it is. I hope you enjoy.

Shrimp Creole Soup with Okra


2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 cups celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
3 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. dried basil
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 lb. okra, to prepare, freeze for about 15 minutes before slicing into rounds with a very sharp knife, discarding both ends
1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 - 14.5 ounce can no salt added diced tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups water
4 cups seafood stock (I used prepared stock)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned with tail removed
1 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, juiced

Preheat a large dutch oven or soup pot on medium high heat and melt the butter with the oil. Add the celery, onions, green pepper and garlic. Saute until translucent, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the garlic starts to brown too much reduce the heat to avoid burning it. Add the tomato paste with all of the spices and continue to cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the okra and white vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes. Make sure to stir well to coat the okra with the vinegar. The vinegar is an old timers secret to help take the slime out of the okra. Pour in the diced tomatoes with its liquid and stir. Add the white wine, water and seafood stock. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for about 3o minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce and continue to cook another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After the last 30 minutes have passed add the shrimp, scallions, parsley and lemon juice. Cook for about 2 minutes or so depending on the size shrimp used and turn off the heat so you don't over cook the shrimp.

Nutrition Facts
8 - 1 1/2 Cup Servings (Yields about 12 cups in total)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 236.2
Total Fat 7.0 g
Saturated Fat 2.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Cholesterol 178.0 mg
Sodium 513.9 mg
Potassium 623.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 15.1 g
Dietary Fiber 4.6 g
Sugars 5.1 g
Protein 27.4 g

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