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It is unlikely that anyone in Houston knows the city's soups quite like Erin Hicks. Along with fellow food writer and "culinary sidekick" Jodie Eisenhardt, Hicks also knows a thing or two about burning the roof of her mouth, after testing the 60 recipes for their new book, "Houston Soups & Sips." It's the fifth in her series of Houston cookbooks, which also includes dishes from Mexican recipes to classic desserts, all culled from local restaurants. Each recipe in the new volume includes sommelier and cicerone picks for wine and beer pairings, meaning soup served in the book's style need not be relegated to the category of "basics for a night in."

The slick self-published book, which Hicks photographed herself, is already available for pre-order at erinhickscooks.com and on Amazon. A launch party will take place on Wednesday, January 18 at Ritual from 5 to 9 p.m. There, guests can try samples of the featured soups and get their newly purchased books signed. 

Though readers can't lay their hands on copies of the book today, Hicks was kind enough to preview Ritual's recipe for its rich, crave-worthy seafood gravy. "This soup is one of my favorites for many reasons, including its vivid seafood flavor and luscious texture," she tells us. "I think it’s one the best photographs I snapped for the book, plus, I’m absolutely in love with Ritual’s mission!"

Recipe: Ritual's Seafood Gravy

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Gravy:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups onion, small dice
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced
  • 1 1/3 tablespoon salt
  • 2 1/3 cups red bell pepper, seeded, small dice
  • 3/4 cup celery, small diced
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 cups fish or seafood stock
  • 5 cups heavy cream
  • 5 anchovy filets
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/3 ounce lemongrass, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/3 cups long grain rice
  • 1 1/8 cups white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon whiskey

Seafood: 

  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil
  • 8 ounces snapper, skin-on, cut into 1-ounce slices
  • 8 ounces Gulf shrimp, shelled, deveined, seared
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup seafood stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces lump crab meat
  • Parsley leaves, minced, for garnish
  • Grilled sourdough

For the gravy: 

Melt butter in a large stockpot, over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions and salt, and cook until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the bell pepper and celery, and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and cook to slightly caramelize, for about 10 minutes. Add the stock, anchovies, heavy cream, bay leaves, lemongrass,Worcestershire and paprika. Bring to a boil, while whisking thoroughly. Boil for 10 minutes. Add the rice, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat. Stir in the wine and the Bourbon. Remove the lemongrass.

For the seafood:

Heat a large sauté pan until searing hot, add the grapeseed or olive oil, and turn until the pan is coated. Lightly coat the snapper and shrimp with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Place the snapper and shrimp in the pan for 3 minutes without turning. Then add the seafood stock, butter and crab, and stir for a few minutes.

To serve: 

Ladle the gravy into bowls and evenly distribute the seafood mixture amongst them. Serve with grilled sourdough.

Wine pairing: A rich, golden full-bodied Roussanne, with ripe pear and toasted oak notes. Beer pairing: A crisp blonde ale, with subtle orange peel and nutmeg, like Chimay Triple Blonde.

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