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This favorite at Mardi Gras time works well whether you live in New Orleans or not. It’s more like comfort food—perfect where the weather is still quite cold.

olive oil
1 pound boneless chicken
salt, black pepper, red pepper to taste
1 pound cooked and peeled shrimp
1 pound hot smoked sausage, sliced on the bias or 1 pound diced ham
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 to 6 cloves of minced garlic, to taste
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 small cans tomato paste
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
4 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked

1. In a frying pan, brown the chicken in salt and black and red pepper, to taste. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Remove from pan.
2. Brown the sliced smoked sausage, remove from pan and pour off the fat.
3. In a soup pot, sauté onions, garlic, peppers and celery in olive oil until the onions begin to turn transparent.
4. Add the tomato paste and let it brown a little. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.
5. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock, stirring until vegetables, tomato paste and stock are combined well.
6. Add the cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, oregano and thyme and tomatoes, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
7. Add the chicken, sausage and shrimp and cook another 10 minutes.
8. Add the rest of the stock, taste for seasoning and make any adjustments, and then stir in the rice.
9. Cook for about 20 minutes, covered, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through.
10. Turn the heat down to medium-low, uncover the pot and let the soup thicken, stirring for about 10 minutes.

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