Thursday, August 18, 2011

cajun crawfish and corn soup

I spent last weekend in New Orleans! It was my first visit to the city, and it won't be my last. It is as charming as I hoped. When I told people I was going, there was a barrage of "You MUST eat at..." Yeah, New Orleans is a food town... Cajun food. Po Boys, Jambalaya, Gumbo, Eggs Sardou, Bignets, crawfish, oysters, etoufée, etc. etc. I didn't get to try everything, but we sure put in a good effort. See some of my favorite photos from the trip here.

One recommended restaurant was Desire. It happened to be a part of our hotel, so it was easy to go there to sneak in a bonus meal before dinner ("don't stop eating" was some of my favorite advice I had gotten when planning the trip). One of the dishes that inspired me was a corn soup with craw fish and ham. I decided I had to make a crawfish corn soup when I got home. Desire's was more of a creamy soup, but mine is a good representation on the Cajun flavors. A fantastic end-of-summer soup using fresh summer sweet corn. *Slurp*

Cajun Crawfish & Corn Soup

-2 smoked ham hocks
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 medium onion, chopped
-2 medium carrots, diced
-2 celery stalks, chopped
-2 shallots, chopped fine
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-2-3 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-8-10 cups water
-1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
-6 ears of fresh corn, corn cut from cob (about 3 cups)
-1 red bell pepper, diced
-1/2 pound crawfish tail meat
-salt, pepper, old bay to taste

Heat the olive oil and ham hocks in a stock pot, browning the hocks. Add the onions, carrots, celery, shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are translucent and the bottom of the pan starts getting browned bits stuck to it. Add the Old Bay, paprika and cayenne. Stir until all the veggies are coated with spices. Add water to cover the hocks. Simmer for at least 1 hour... the longer you can simmer the more hammy flavor you will get... up to 2 hours. Add the red pepper and Worcestershire and cook for about 5 minutes. Add corn and cook at a slow simmer for about 20 minutes. If your crawfish tails are frozen (their season is from February to early July), add to the soup and cook about 8 minutes. If they are fresh, just add them and cook long enough for them to heat up. Taste for seasoning. Serve!

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