I like to sauté my vegetables in the roux while it is cooking, becoming so tender and soft they almost melt into the finished sauce. This is a good base recipe, you can substitute seafood or andouille sausage for the smoked. Add some chopped okra with the other vegetables and a dash of filé powder at the end if you can get your hands on some.
There is enough stew here to serve a crowd for a casual holiday get-together and would be a nice respite from more traditional fare. Make it up to 3 days ahead and keep in the refrigerator, or a couple weeks in the freezer, then all you have to do is heat and serve.