Today’s Soup & Stories contribution comes from Julie Baldwin, the Editor-in-chief at Ignitum Today who also blogs at The Corner with a View. A Midwesterner by birth, Julie currently lives in the South with her husband and beautiful baby girl. She has embraced southern living AND southern cooking, and today shares her Cajun crawfish soup recipe. Lucky us! I’m not even a “fish person,” but I find this one quite intriguing! Maybe it’s the lure of the Creole seasoning?
Oh, one more thing. Please allow me to publicly congratulate Julie for being the first, and most likely only, person to ever use the praise “Slap Ya Mama” here in this space.
My husband Will loves crawfish. The first time I ate it, I couldn’t believe how much effort went into retrieving the tail meat: separating the body from the tail by wriggling it back and forth, removing the first ring of the carpus and removing the meat. I knew I’d gone native when I found myself teaching a urology resident how to eat crawfish at a Tulane-sponsored boil.
Crawfish boils are traditionally cooked in large batches, a meal to be enjoyed with others. Our families even threw Will his own crawfish boil upon his graduation from medical school, complete with little red potatoes, yellow corn and plenty seasoning with a kick.
After graduation, we moved south to New Orleans where we saw crawfish boil ingredients prominently on display at the grocery store, a novelty to us Midwestern transplants. But in our new location, we are not surrounded by friends and family. Rather, we have sunshine, palm trees, tourists, Mardi Gras beads (still) hanging from trees, no open container laws, and a real feeling of community. We live in the city, with its hurricane-wrecked sidewalks, boats passing on the Mississippi, and easy distance between three Catholic churches. I knew I’d enjoy living here, but I’ve grown to really, truly love it.
We also have a new baby, now 6.5 months old, and, being without the usual support system, I began experimenting with cooking soup. This recipe was inspired by Fisherman’s Stew and Jamila’s Crawfish, Spinach and Zucchini Bisque, a New Orleans favorite. I appreciate the time it takes for this soup to stew (5-7 hours, depending on how high one keeps the temperature), the motley of vegetables, the heartiness of protein, the lightness of the broth, and the slight kick of Cajun.
We use redfish, a red drum/ game fish, which Will and his father caught in the Mississippi River 90 miles south of New Orleans. For those of you who do not have over 30 lbs of wild game in your freezer, I think tilapia, cod or catfish would suffice nicely. If crawfish is not your fancy, I think extra small shrimp would be delightful in this recipe as well.
My venture into soup-making has given me a confidence as a still-new wife, mother, and cook. Mistakes I make can be fixed (see “note”), the quantity cooked can hold our appetite for days, the healthy ingredients keep us satisfied, and the crawfish tails are a playful nod toward the kind of community we are building, near and far.
Julie’s Cajun Crawfish Soup
- 5-8 medium filets of white fish; defrosted, deboned & cubed
- 1 12 oz crawfish tail meat package, defrosted (Boudreaux’s is a good brand)
- 1 lb package of dry kidney beans
- 3-4 T butter (olive oil is a fine substitute)
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 yellow squash, cubed
- 1-2 peppers, red or green, diced
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 3-4 carrots, peeled & diced
- 3 T minced garlic
- 1 bag frozen corn
- 1 tsp Creole seasoning, to taste
Optional: Celery and little red potatoes are also excellent ingredients.
Note: The first time I fixed this soup, I added overzealously 2 T of the “Slap Ya Mama” brand Creole seasoning to over 8+ cups of water, and it was too potent. If this happens, white granulated sugar may be added by the spoonful to help temper the spice without giving up too much of the kick.
Tools: 8-QT Stock pot, 12-inch fry pan
- The beans go in first. Fill the pot 2-3 inches of water above the beans, and turn on high.
- When the water starts to boil, turn down the temperature, and have the beans simmer for the next hour. Watch the water levels — add more if necessary.
- Add 1 tsp of Creole seasoning.
- Start cutting up the fish, dicing the onion and pepper(s), cubing the yellow squash and zucchini, and peeling and dicing the carrots.
- After the first hour, add at least 6-8 more cups of water. Keep temperature on low. Continue cooking for a second hour.
- Add the butter to the fry pan — melt it, then add the fish, crawfish tails, vegetables, can of diced tomatoes, and minced garlic. Sauté and stir for about 15 minutes.
- Allow fish and vegetables to cool for fifteen minutes, and then add the food + liquid into the water and beans.
- Simmer for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally, tasting. Keep the lid mostly on; continue to stir occasionally, and taste. Add no more than ½ tsp of Creole seasoning at a time, no matter how much you like spice.
- Add package of frozen corn.
- Continue to simmer for 1-3 hours until fish falls apart and vegetables are comfortably soft.
This soup is delicious with wheat beer! We prefer a side of crisp, salty tortilla chips.
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