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Comparing Cajun and Creole Gumbos, Our Family Favorite, and a Wine Pairing #SoupSwappers

Here we are at the February 2020 Soup Saturday Swappers event. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and, every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile.

This month, Sue of Palatable Pastime is hosting and writes: Let's help celebrate Mardis Gras (falls on 2.25 this year)  by  posting a favorite gumbo recipe." Here's the line-up of gumbo recipes from the #SoupSwappers...

Comparing Cajun and Creole Gumbos
I'll be honest: the difference between Cajun and Creole has been a mystery to me for years. So, I decided to use this event as a jumping off point. Let's, first, look at who the groups are. Cajuns were French Acadians expelled from what is now Nova Scotia in the 1700s for their Catholic beliefs. Many settled in Acadiana. Isolated by swamps, bayous and prairies, the Cajuns lived off the land and their cuisine is rustic and hearty.

On the other hand, Creoles were originally from Europe and settled in New Orleans. Primarily from wealthy French ans Spanish families, Creoles brought their own chefs from Madrid, Paris, and other European capitals. These chefs adapted classic cooking techniques to incorporate unfamiliar ingredients such as crawfish and snapper. Then you add in the culinary influence of the enslaved Africans who also served in these households, the influence of the surrounding Choctaw Indians, and even more European immigrants from Ireland and Germany; and a diverse gumbo emerges.

One chef and native New Orleanian Mark Falgoust reported, “Cajun folks used one chicken to feed three families, Creoles used three chickens to feed one family.”

Gumbo is derived from the word 'gombo' which translates to 'okra' in many West African languages. The earliest recorded recipes for the dish include okra as a main ingredient.

Our Family Favorite: Creole Gumbo

Turns out that I have only ever made Creole Gumbo. And when I gave the Cajun Gumbo a try, two of the four around my table found it too strong. Read about my Cajun Gumbo with Chicken, Andouille, and Shrimp + 2018 Maricool Muscadet. Jake and I enjoyed it and found the wine pairing delightfully compatible.

But I'm sharing a Creole recipe today...


  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined (shells and heads reserved to make seafood stock)
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into thick coins
  • 1 pound spicy Creole sausage, cut into thick coins
  • 1 pound okra cut into 1" length
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 to 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 2 C diced tomatoes
  • 1 T Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T filé powder
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • Also needed: steamed rice for serving

Add the shrimp heads and shells and 2 quarts water to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Cook sausages in a large stockpot until the pieces are nicely browned and much of the fat has been rendered. Remove the sausages and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. In the same pot, add 1 T oil. Add in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and bell peppers. Stir together and cook until the vegetable are softened.

Strain the shrimp stock into the large stockpot. Add in the browned sausages, bay leaves, and diced tomatoes. Bring everything to a boil over medium heat. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and stir the okra into the mixture. Continue cooking the gumbo for 60 minutes. Fold in the shrimp. Cook for 15 minutes longer. 

Remove the gumbo from the heat and stir in the Creole seasoning and filé powder. Let the gumbo rest for 15 to 20 minutes. As it cools, oil should form on the top. Skim the oil off with a ladle and discard. 

Taste the gumbo and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve the gumbo ladled over steamed rice.

And a Wine Pairing

And I am also sharing a wine pairing to go with my Creole gumbo: 2016 L’Amore di Giulietta, a Chardonnay from Italy.

I did buy the wine for the label, but it ended up being the perfect match with this gumbo. It poured a light straw color with flecks of gold. On the nose, it was fruity, almost tropical with notes of pinepple. But on the palate, it was more dry than fruity with soft tannins. Very food friendly and easy drinking.

That's it for this month. The Soup Swappers will be back in March with April of Veggies First Then Dessert hosting. We'll be sharing soups with Spring greens. Stay tuned.


  1. I often wondered what the difference was as well. Thanks for the lesson.

  2. Thanks for the history lesson! Your gumbo sounds amazing.

  3. To me, the difference is more about the use of tomato in the gumbo. Cajuns don't generally add it. So the Creole version would be more like shrimp a'la creole (Justin Wilson did a very classic example of that), but more of a soup/stew format than a sauce over rice. I sometimes add a little tomato paste to my gumbo, but that really isn't authentic to Cajun and not totally Creole either. It's all good to me though.

  4. Enjoyed reading this write-up, and this gumbo sounds delicious!


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