Louisiana Shrimp Gumbo


This is what I’m making for dinner tonight as it’s so cold out today.  Predicting possible winter mix.  I used Sam’s smoked sausage this time but it’s equally good with breakfast sausage.   I have made this many times before, but change it up every time as to what seafood I throw in the pot.  Tonight I plan to add 12 oz. crawfish tails to the mix.  This hearty soup is just the thing for a chilly day.   This recipe is Atkins Induction suitable if you skip the flour/roux step.  You can always just thicken it with xanthan gum.  Not quite as good, but still tasty results. If you omit the roux making, just omit the olive oil used to make that step.

A teacher I used to work with taught me how to make “roux” and a good gumbo.  She was born and raised in Louisiana and cooked gumbo for a teachers’ holiday social gathering once years ago.  Though she used smoked sausage instead of bulk pork breakfast sausage, I find I like breakfast sausage a little better in gumbo.  Two things I have added to the recipe are the stick of butter and the parsley.  She used chicken stock and I prefer seafood stock I get from boiling the shrimp shells for 10 minutes in 1½ quarts of water and freeze in 1 cup portions.  Be sure to adjust the nutritional info below if you make changes in the seafood you use.


2 T. Carbalose flour (or oat fiber for lower carbs)

2T. olive oil

1 stick butter (1/2 c.)

½ c. chopped onion

½ c. chopped parsley

3 cloves minced garlic

6 oz. crumbled breakfast sausage (or sliced smoked sausage if you prefer)

3/4 c. chopped green bell pepper

½ c. chopped celery

3 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or a 14-oz. can diced tomatoes)

4 small bay leaves

2 tsp. thyme

10-15 drops Tobasco

¼ tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like things spicier)

2 lb. shrimp in their shells, heads on (I often do half shrimp and half crawfish tail meat)

1qt. (4 c.) seafood stock made from shrimp shells (or chicken stock)

1½ c. frozen okra slices  (added last 5 minutes)

1 tsp. gumbo file powder (added last 5 minutes)

OPTIONAL:  Add 1-2 tsp. my Seafood Spice Blend

VARIATION:  Add 1 can smoked oysters well-rinsed of oil or 1 c. fresh oysters (if available).  Add 12 oz. crawfish tail meat.  You can also add chunks of fish filets, but do so at the very last 10 minutes of cooking so they don’t fall apart from overcooking.

DIRECTIONS:  First make the seafood stock by boiling the shrimp shells in 1½ qts. water in a large cooking pot for about 10 minutes.  I make seafood stock ahead and keep extra in my spare freezer in 1 cup portions in plastic tubs for such uses.  Then I can just pop one out and add to the pot for soups, gumbos and etouffees.  Scoop out shells with slotted spoon and discard.  Pour stock into bowl and set aside.   Wipe moisture out of pot.

Chop all your vegetables and have them at the ready by the stove top, because once you start to make the roux, you can’t stop to cut them up.

Now you’re ready to make the roux and start the gumbo.  The roux imparts a nutty, browned flour taste to the broth of this dish and if this step is bypassed, you will merely be making an ordinary fish soup with much less depth of flavor.

There is an art to making roux with respect to knowing when to “kill” the browning action just short of it burning, which gives it an unpleasant, bitter taste.  If it burns, you just have to toss it out and start again and you’re butter is wasted.  I’ve burned it one time in hundreds and hundreds of batches.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite easy!

Heat oil and add Carbalose flour (or oat fiber for lower carbs) and whisk constantly on high heat.   You want to brown the roux as dark as you can get it without it getting black. I shoot for chestnut horse color myself.  If you see black bits of burned bits that look like pepper in it, it’s ruined and willl spoil your gumbo.  Start again and whisk constanly.  This can burn in the blink of an eye, so absolutely do not get distracted or walk away from the stove while making a roux!    The second it gets to a dark brown color, immediately dump the chopped vegetables in the pan to drop the temperature of the roux and halt further browning.  Lower heat to medium.  Now add the stick of butter, relax and continue sauteing the vegetables for 5-10 minutes until they wilt and begin to caramelize.  If still on Induction,  thicken with xanthan gum or your favorite thickener instead.  You won’t get that nutty flavor browning the flour gives to the final dish, but it will still be a good seafood stew.

If on Atkins Induction and omitting the roux, just begin by melting the butter and sauteing the veggies until tender.  Now add all remaining ingredients (except the gumbo file), including the seafood stock.  Simmer covered on lowest heat for about an 1-1½ hours to allow flavors to mellow.  Add okra and Gumbo File powder and simmer 5-7 minutes longer to let okra get just tender.  Slightly thicken with xanthan gum, dusting it lightly over surface and stirring constantly.  Repeat xanthan gum additions until gumbo reaches desired thickness (takes about 1/4 tsp or so total).  Serve with a nice salad.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: As a full meal, this recipe should serve 6 people a large bowl of gumbo.  If serving a small cup of gumbo as an appetizer to another entree, it will make about 10 servings.

6 Servings: each contains 450 calories, 30.28 g fat, 7.83 g carbs, 2.23 g fiber, 36.45 g protein, approx. 96 mg. sodium 5.6 NET CARBS

10 Servings: each contains 272 calories, 18.17 g fat, 4.7 g carbs, 1.34 g fiber, 21.87 g protein, approx. 58 mg. sodium, 3.36 NET CARBS

2 thoughts on “Louisiana Shrimp Gumbo

    1. I guess you can just omit them entirely. I’ve never made gumbo without them, but there are recipes without tomatoes in them, so it should taste OK…………just a little different from mine.

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