Texas is not a great soup state. There are households that serve soup on regular basis, I'm sure, and I'm also sure that there are households that don't have a Texas flare and therefore don't have Texas cuisine either. But for the most part, wherever men dine, whether women are present or not, soups tend to have more filling qualities about them like meat and potatoes. In my experience, whether in my mom's kitchen, church potlucks, school lunches, etc. in Texas, soups tend to be considered something extra like a side dish or as an accompaniment to something else. Although occasionally, you'll find some big hearty meat and vegetable type soups, which are actually the main part of the meal. But for the most part, these are like country soups served anywhere in the USA especially in the Midwest. Also you'll find all kinds of fish and seafood soups, bisques and stews along the any of the coasts in the USA. But in the Gulf Coast, many of these have a Creole taste to them. In these places, you'll find gumbos too, which are wholly Creole. 

But compared to other parts of the country, Texas soups in general seem to be few and far between. I'm pretty sure that non-Texans rarely miss our soups anyway. I was talking to my sister, Kenzie, today and we couldn't remember having many soups growing up very often. We remembered mom making ham bone soup after the holidays and potato or chicken noodle soup when we were sick. We also remember her making seafood gumbo and chicken tortilla soup a few times. It was Texas chili and Chicken & Dumplings, both served with cornbread, is what we remembered the most.

The upper Gulf Coast of Texas (all the area North and East of Galveston, Beaumont being the center) is just a gastronomical extension of Louisiana, in my opinion. Although it's a bit different than New Orleans typical cuisine, obviously, there's quite an influence of the Creole and French cuisine of Louisiana, that I adore and miss greatly. 

serves 4 to 6

1/4 C chopped onion
1/4" thick ham steak, chopped OR chopped sausage
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 C lard or bacon drippings
2 T flour
1 lb fresh or frozen okra, stemmed and sliced
14.5 oz can tomatoes, partially drained
1 T chopped bell pepper
1 T chopped celery (I didn't add this since I'm allergic)
1 bay leaf
1/4 t thyme
1 or more qt hot water
salt & cayenne to taste
1 or more lbs shelled, deveined raw shrimp
Tabasco sauce (optional)

In a heavy pot, saute the onion, meat and garlic in the fat over medium heat until the onion is golden, stirring frequently. Add flour and blend. Cook until flour is browned. Add okra and cook, stirring occasionally. Okra can burn easily, so watch it. When the okra has stopped "stringing" which it will eventually, add tomatoes, peppers, celery, bay leaf, thyme and water. Blend well. When it starts to boil slightly, cook 5 minutes, turning the heat down to low. Add salt and cayenne, to taste. Add shrimp. Simmer for 1 hour. Correct seasoning as needed. (I like to add Tabasco sauce at this time or put out for your family members, guests to put on at their own peril.) Serve with plain white rice, that can be on the side, served under the gumbo or mixed in with the gumbo. 


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