Gumbo is a stew that starts by making a roux. Usually flour is stirred in hot oil and/or butter until it browns. After that, vegetables, broth and meats can be added (usually seafood). Gumbos vary according to family and available ingredients.
This recipe is quite similar to what my mother used to make when I was a child in Lafayette, Louisiana. She became allergic to shrimp in her later years and had to leave it out. You could substitute pork or beef sausage or other meats for the shrimp, or add the shrimp to individual bowls at serving time. We sometimes add okra (fresh, frozen or dried) and a pint of canned tomatoes to the gumbo, but you can adjust it according to your taste and what you have on hand.
6 T. butter, shortening, or oil (or mixture)
6 T. flour
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 quart well-seasoned chicken broth (or shrimp broth made from baked, caramelized shrimp shells)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. sugar
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup medium shrimp, shelled and de-veined (or, use cooked shrimp)
Filé (ground sassafras leaves)
Dash red cayenne pepper
Melt butter or oil in large heavy pot. Add flour; cook and stir over medium heat until rich brown. Add onion and pepper; sauté until veggies are limp. (At this point, you could add okra and tomatoes or juice, if desired. Cook several minutes at high heat, stirring frequently, until okra and tomatoes are broken down.) Add broth gradually and whisk until smooth. Add other ingredients; cook at least a half hour. If using raw shrimp, add 3 minutes before serving and cook just until pink. (Add cooked shrimp and chicken at the end and heat through). Serve with rice and crackers. Pass the filé and Tabasco sauce. We usually have baked sweet potatoes alongside the gumbo.