Red beans and rice is one of the signature dishes of New Orleans, a city rich with the influences of Latin America and the Caribbean. Indeed, that’s why Louis Armstrong, New Orleans’s pioneering cultural ambassador to the world, used to sign off his letters, “Red beans and ricely yours….”
Now that virtually all of us everywhere enjoy red beans and rice, I didn’t see why I couldn’t turn this classic into a delicious soup. All it took was the addition of celery, onion, and bell peppers (a/k/a the Holy Trinity of New Orleans, Cajun, and Creole cooking), a little Creole seasoning, and some stock. I loved it the very first time I made it. Leave out the sausage and ham and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock, and you’ve got a lean, vegetarian version of this winner
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 ounces ham
1 large onion
4 medium stalks celery
1 large green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 pound fully cooked smoked andouille sausage
Two 15 1/2-ounce cans red kidney beans
6 cups Homemade Chicken Stock (page 000, add preparation time) or canned broth
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 1/2 cups cooked white or brown rice (1/2 cup uncooked rice equals 1 1/2 cups cooked)
Heat the vegetable oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Chop the ham (about 1 1/3 cups) and add to the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until it is lightly browned. remove to a small bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, chop the onion (about 2 cups), celery (about 2 cups), and bell pepper (about 1 1/2 cups). Add the onion to the saucepot and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes until it is lightly browned. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Press the garlic (about 1 tablespoon) into the vegetables in the saucepan; stir in the Creole Seasoning and cook 1 minute longer.
Halve the sausage lengthwise and slice it crosswise (about 3 cups)’ rinse and drain the beans. Add the chicken stock, sausage, beans, ham, and bay leaf to the vegetable mixture and simmer 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, stir in the rice, heat, and serve.
Makes about 10 cups, 6 servings
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Total preparation time: 40 minutes
Creole Seasoning: Combine 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon hot paprika, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, and 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme in a small bowl. Transfer to a tight jar or tin and use as directed in a recipe. Yields about 1/2 cup