Bubble, bubble, toil way into delicious fall broths, bisques



Story by Angie Thorne 

Fort Polk Public Affairs Office 

FORT POLK, La. — Yummy, delicious, tasty, flavorful, mouthwatering food — it’s what life’s about. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are other, more important things than food when it comes to the intricacies of life, but food provides an elemental importance to everything we do. For example, it’s essential for a body’s sustenance and wellbeing, but it can also feed your soul by providing an underlying joy found in something as simple as a freshly baked cookie paired with a tall, cold glass of milk, to the more complex flavors found in an exotic curry and everything in between.
Being healthy and eating right has its moments, but there has to be room for improvisations in the kitchen that might involve more butter, oil, sugar and salt than is good for us.
Be good most of the time and splurge every once in a while to balance things out — remember that moderation is the key. I’m not talking about a burger-and-fries kind of splurge; instead, I have confidence in your abilities to make a masterful dish in your own kitchen, incorporating fresh foods in an appetizing meal. It’s the tantalization of taste buds that I’m interested in at the moment.
As we move into fall, there is no lack of scrumptious choices that compliment the season. This is the time of year when people long for hearty soups, stews and chili of every kind — even pumpkin, white bean and Chicago style with cocoa (don’t be a snob — those types of chili count).
Then there are soups. The depth and breadth of variety is amazing. You like burgers? There’s a cheeseburger soup. Do you like potatoes, broccoli and tomatoes? There are tons of soups for you to try. Soups also represent cultures like Mexican, Italian, Asian, Indian, Greek, French and, my favorite, Cajun.
Cajun fare includes meals such as red beans and rice with sausage, jambalaya (a tomato based rice dish with added chicken, shrimp and sausage, depending on the mood and what’s on hand), etouffee (a tomato based gravy with crawfish or shrimp over rice) and the king of Louisiana soups — gumbo (a brown rue based creation poured over rice). If you haven’t figured it out, most Cajuns have an affinity for rice just like other parts of the country seem to serve potatoes with everything. After all, rice is a cheap and easy crop that grows well here.
Now, back to gumbo, my favorite fall soup. No matter where you go in Louisiana, you can probably find a restaurant with it on the menu and a plethora of Louisiana folks who can make it for you from scratch. The thing is, there are almost as many ways to make gumbo as there are people who cook it. The basic types of gumbo come in chicken and sausage, okra (added to the chicken and sausage, but too slimy for me) and seafood (add shrimp and crab to the mix).
In addition to those types of gumbo, people tend to add a variety of different ingredients such as tomatoes, bacon drippings, garlic, mushrooms, bay leaves and others, depending on how they learned to make it and in which part of Louisiana they grew up. This can lead to a wide range of gumbo flavors.
That’s all a bit too much for my taste. My dad was a little Cajun from Ville Platte and though he made the big three gumbos (chicken and sausage, okra and seafood) my favorite was always the simplest — a chicken and sausage gumbo, barring the distracting ingredients others deem essential.
I guess it’s gumbo in its most basic form, but it is in no way lacking. In fact, I think the simplicity of fewer ingredients enhances the flavors present as they bubble, brew and meld into a rich and flavorful soup that warms you from the inside out.
Now, I know it’s still pretty warm out there for what’s supposed to be fall, and these dishes are meant to be made during cooler weather, but don’t despair. The temperatures will drop into a more acceptable cooking range soon.
This commentary is just to get you ready for when it hits. After all, as any good cook will tell you, proper preparation, adventurous taste buds and a flavorful imagination are some of the more important keys to good cuisine.
So gear up for some serious cooking by picking the gumbo, chili and crockpot recipes most appealing to you. Make a shopping list, buy your ingredients and cook your way into a hearty and cozy fall with a satisfied appetite.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.