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Beans and Legumes, Chicken, Pork, Soup

Easy Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Andouille Sausage

I learned to cook in New Orleans when I was a student at Tulane. My favorite job was working in one of the earliest cooking schools and gourmet shops in the country, run by Lee Barns. Lee had gone to Paris as a student and then to Le Cordon Bleu, the famous French cooking school that Julia Child attended. There I met and assisted Paul Prudhomme, Giuliano Bugialli, and a host of others. I chopped, washed up and ran the register.

The next block over was my favorite fishmonger, Christiana. She was a woman of large girth and smiling face. I would tell her what I wanted to make and she’d pick out shimmering filets, whole snappers with eyes glistening, succulent oysters, or crawfish for etouffee, telling me what to look for and how to cook it.

Those were the days before nouvelle cuisine. Most dishes contained cream, butter and often alcohol. I’d go to different specialty shops for the best fish, meat, cheeses and staples. The small neighborhood stores often had a counter or a back door from which they served oyster and shrimp po-boys, crawfish pie, or spicy jambalaya. My favorite roast beef sandwich came from the side door off a small grocery store. You had to grab a fist full of paper napkins because the au jus ran down your arms as you took a bite. It was take-out only so we would go to Audubon Park and sit on a bench to eat. Friends lingered over meals then. There was time to cook all day.

Now our lives are busier and a cream sauce is for a special meal. One of my favorite simple meals then was red beans and rice, traditionally served for lunch on Mondays. If you went to an upscale restaurant, red beans and rice was probably what the staff ate in the kitchen. In one of Enola Prudhomme’s cookbooks, Paul’s mother talked about guests at her restaurant finding out what the staff was having in the back and asking for that.

This Red Beans and Rice recipe with Andouille Sausage takes some shortcuts. You should have it on the table in about 40 minutes. If you leave it on the stove a bit longer, it will only get better.

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage

Serves 6


3 cans                 red kidney beans, rinsed (always rinse canned beans)

3 strips                smoked bacon, cut into lardons (¼“ pieces)

12 oz                   Andouille smoked sausage – optional (I often use chicken Andouille)

1 ½ c                    onion, chopped

½ c                     celery, chopped

1t                        garlic, chopped

½ c                     bell pepper, chopped (green pepper is traditional, but you can use red instead)

1 ½ t                   Worcestershire sauce

1t                        cayenne pepper (if you like it hot, add more)

3T                       parsley, chopped

1 ½ t                   oregano, chopped

1 ½ t                   thyme, chopped

½ t                      smoked paprika

1                         bay leaf

¼ c                     tomato sauce

2 to 3 c              water for the red beans

2c                       rice, long grain

3 ¾ c                 water, cold, for the rice

salt and pepper to taste


Measuring cups and spoons, a Dutch oven or large pot, and a medium saucepan


Fry the bacon lardons until crispy then remove from the pot.

Bacon strips cut into lardon

Bacon strips cut into lardon

Pour away all the grease except 2T. Sauté the onion in the remaining bacon grease until translucent. Add the celery, bell pepper and a good pinch of salt. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, parsley, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and enough water to just cover the beans and vegetables. You may have to add more water later, depending on how long you cook the beans.

in the pot

Taste, and if necessary, adjust the seasoning. You may want to add more cayenne, salt and pepper.

After about 15 minutes, add the sausage and cook for another 15 minutes.

As soon as the red beans are cooking, fill the medium saucepan with the rice and 3 ¾ c cold water and set on the stove to cook. Follow the rice package’s directions.

To serve: In the middle of a plate or open bowl place a mound of about ¾ c rice. Ladle the red beans around the rice. Enjoy!






Appetizer, Soup, Vegetables

Turnip Soup to Warm the Soul

Turnip Soup 20150921-_MG_2988.CR2

Turnip Soup to Warm the Soul

Turnips used not be the first vegetable I would think of for a creamy, silken soup but this soup is just that: creamy and soul-satisfying. All that and there is no cream to inflate the calorie count. It has become a favorite of mine.

This soup would be a wonderful first course at Thanksgiving. It makes sense in a small kitchen because you can make it ahead of time and warm it up in the microwave. Serve it in small espresso or coffee cups. It will set the stage as a warm small enticement leading to the main course.

I first made this at my mother’s house in the Tennessee mountains one winter. It is adapted from a recipe by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.

I like to garnish this Turnip Soup with small pieces of herbed goat cheese and a small drizzle of white balsamic vinegar or a special extra virgin olive oil to add the final touch.

Turnip Soup with Goat Cheese

4 servings


2 turnips, peeled and thinly sliced

1 sweet onion, chopped

1T butter

1T extra-virgin olive oil

1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and sliced like the turnip

1t fresh sage chopped finely

3c chicken stock

1½t salt

¼ t freshly ground nutmeg

2oz herbed goat cheese (optional)

white balsamic vinegar (optional)


1 medium to large sauce pan, blender


Melt the butter and olive oil in your pot. Sauté the onions till just

transparent. Don’t let them brown. Add the sage, turnips, potato

and salt. Cook gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are

fork tender. Add the stock and nutmeg. Cook at a simmer for

another 10 minutes. Use a immersion blender to puree. Taste.

To Serve:

Cut the goat cheese into pieces. Arrange on top of the soup and

add a few drops of white balsamic vinegar or extra virgin olive oil.

To eat, swirl the cheese into the soup. Enjoy!


Cool Avocado and Cucumber Soup

The temperature is hovering at 100F here.  I don’t even want to think about turning on the stove. When it’s too hot to cook, chilled soup with a sparkling glass of wine makes a lovely, refreshing meal. This soup is so elegant in its simplicity and flavor that it begs for a crisp white tablecloth and a baguette with cold salted butter. Add a few pieces of grilled shrimp, chicken or scallops and you have a special meal with no fuss.

20140813 Cucumbers for soup_MG_8579

All you do is throw everything in the blender and in less than a minute it’s done. I like a bit of texture in my soups. With this cool avocado and cucumber soup, I don’t puree it to complete smoothness which you might want to do. And remember: with chilled food you usually need a bit more salt than you might think. Enjoy!

Cool Avocado and Cucumber Soup


2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped.
1 avocado
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped. Sometimes I roast the jalapeño which gives the soup a slightly richer flavor.
1 1/4 cups ice-cold water
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 small shallot chopped
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, mint or dill
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Blender or food processor, measuring spoons


Now the easy part:

Place everything in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add more cold water if you need to thin the soup to your desired consistency. Season again with salt and pepper if needed. Because it is served cold, this soup might need a bit more salt than you are used to using. Chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before serving.  I have been known to put the cool avocado and cucumber soup in a bowl in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally to serve it sooner. Taste before serving to make sure the seasonings are balanced.

Garnish with sprig of mint or couple of cilantro leaves.

Make Cool Avocado and Cucumber Soup a meal by adding chopped tomatoes, a couple of grilled shrimp or scallops or even a few pieces of roasted chicken. Make an arrangement of the tomatoes, cilantro and grilled shrimp/scallop/chicken in the middle of the soup.

Editors note: I’ve made this several times lately and occasionally I needed to add a bit more sugar if it is too tart. Enjoy!