One of the the very oldest recipes — from the “Picayune Creole Cookbook” — actually calls for carrots, although no bell pepper or celery; Lena Richard’s version features onion and bell pepper (but no celery); “La Bonne Cuisine” requires onion and celery (but no bell pepper, although this unique recipe does call for a can of tomato sauce); Mary Land’s recipe calls for onion only; “Brennan’s” calls for just onion and shallot (or what most non-Creole people would call a green onion).
The foundation for this dish is clearly debatable, although I should mention that, believe it or not, celery was once considered a luxury item in America, which may account for its absence in many of the older recipes. One of the beautifully economical things about cooking red beans and rice on Mondays is that traditionally, many New Orleans families would often have a leftover ham bone from Sunday dinner.
So the idea was to multitask, since cooking red beans and doing laundry were chores that required several hours each.
By getting the beans on the stove in early the morning, the lady of the house could then deal with the wash all day as the pot simmered.
Over the years, Prudhomme has authored several books regarding Louisiana cuisine, including 1987’s “The Prudhomme Family Cookbook,” in which he notes, “when I was growing up in Cajun country, red beans were just another dried bean, like pinto beans and lima beans — and Cajuns loved dried beans.