Gumbo: Recipe Makeover

A fantastic American classic that can be salty and rather ripe with calories. We cut both, but kept the soul.

Getting Good With Gumbo

Photo: John Autry

Getting Good With Gumbo

This is certainly not a soup to disrespect. To build all that great flavor with lower sodium, we began by making a quick homemade shrimp stock reduction, drawing lots of shrimp flavor from the shells. We slashed more sodium by ditching the sausage and instead using meaty chicken thighs for richness. The briny shrimp needed just a light dusting of smoked paprika to take the flavor to a whole new level—no extra salt required. Canola oil replaced saturated fat--heavy butter in the nicely darkened roux.

There's great brown rice from Louisiana (we gave a Tasties award to Cajun Grain brand in 2010), and a bowl of this lighter, but not light-weight, gumbo over chewy whole grains is something to celebrate.

THE CLASSIC
890 calories per serving
2,501 milligrams sodium
14.8 grams saturated fat

THE MAKEOVER
334 calories per serving
539 milligrams sodium
1.6 grams saturated fat

View Recipe: Smoky Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

Gumbo Ingredient Showdown

Photo: Randy Mayor

Ingredient Showdown

Homemade Shrimp Stock
Bursting with flavor and easy on salt, with 350mg less sodium per cup than the store-bought variety.

Canola Oil
Replaces butter or lard as the fat for our roux. Save 9g of saturated fat per serving by starting with this heart-healthy oil.

Brown Rice
Complements the nutty flavor of the toasty roux with fewer calories and more whole-grain goodness than white rice.

Gumbo Roux Step 1

Photo: John Autry

Step 1

Both a flavor agent and thickener, a perfect roux imparts a nutty taste and a silken texture to gumbo. Be patient, and stir frequently.

Slowly whisk the flour into the hot oil to form a thick paste. The roux will thin out and grow smooth as it cooks.

Gumbo Roux Step 2

Photo: John Autry

Step 2

Frequent stirring keeps the flour from clumping and burning. The color will first progress from white to blond.

Gumbo Roux Step 3

Photo: John Autry

Step 3

Continue to stir as the color shifts from blond to brown. A deeper color yields a more flavorful, full-bodied roux.

Gumbo Roux Step 4

Photo: John Autry

Step 4

Keep the shrimp stock warm, adding it slowly to the roux. This will keep the fat from coagulating and separating.

View Recipe: Smoky Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

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