RECIPES: John Besh's Southern Goodness

Photo: Recipes from New Orleans? August Restaurant Chef John Besh

Read the "Nightline" profile of chef John Besh HERE.

All recipes from "My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh," Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Pumpkin Soup With Crabmeat

Serves 6–8

Any variety of hearty fall squash or pumpkin can work well in this pumpkin soup. I like my puréed soups so refined that I strain them through a sieve just before serving.


3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 leeks, white parts, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme

1 pound pumpkin, peeled and cubed

1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed

1½ quarts Basic Chicken Stock

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives


Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over moderate heat. Add the garlic, leeks, onions, celery, cayenne pepper, and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin, potatoes, and Chicken Stock and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.

2. Remove the soup from the stove; purée in a food processor or a blender until very smooth and velvety. Strain through a fine sieve back into the pot. Add the cream; cover and keep warm over very low heat or in a 200º oven.

3. Melt the butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add the crabmeat, and heat until it's completely vwarmed through (take care not to break up crabmeat too much). Remove the skillet from the heat. Scatter the chives over the crabmeat and season with salt and pepper.

4. Ladle the pumpkin soup into individual bowls, then put a large spoonful of warm crabmeat into each bowl.

Crawfish Corn Bread Dressing

Serves 10

You can make the corn bread ahead or use leftover corn bread. In fact, the dressing may be prepared a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until an hour before serving. This recipe makes 8–10 cups, more than enough to stuff a turkey, but at our Thanksgiving we stuff our bird with French bread and serve dressings like this alongside.


4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat

¼ pound andouille sausage, diced

¼ pound hot pork sausage meat, removed from casing

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, diced

½ green bell pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups peeled crawfish tails, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme

2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices

6 cups crumbled Basic Corn Bread

2 cups Basic Chicken Stock

½ cup heavy cream

2 eggs, lightly beaten


Freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the bacon fat, andouille, and pork sausage into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the pork with the back of a wooden spoon. When the pork sausage meat has browned, add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

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