Chicken Gumbo Soup

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Chicken Gumbo Soup is a Cajun classic mixed with comforting soup. A delicious and flavorful soup recipe!

One of Ben’s and my favorite places to grab a nip and bite here in town is Jethro’s BBQ & Jambalaya. Jethro’s is well-known ’round these parts for their lip-smacking BBQ, and when they expanded their empire last year to include a restaurant featuring both their famous ‘Q AND mouthwatering homemade Cajun-Creole creations, we were pretty psyched.

Between sipping cocktails and beers from cold mason jars (MASON JARS!) and devouring their authentic-tasting southern fare with the same music we heard every night in the French Quarter playing in the background, we always feel like we’re back in the bayou when we go.

My favorite thing to order alongside a sweet tea vodka & lemonade, natch, is their homemade Jambalaya. Or is it Gumbo? I have this perplexing problem where I can never remember the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo, and have to ask an exasperated Ben every. single. time. which one it is that I get.

Babe! We need to get you help! You ask this every time!

Right, yes, agreed – so which is it?!

Turns out it’s their GUMBO that I’m head over heels for (just texted him to double check!) :)

A spicy Cajun classic. Start with dark roux and vegetables. Jasper adds a heaping helping of andouille sausage & smoked chicken, a pile of steaming white nice rice and corn bread muffin.

I get a steamy cup of this to-die-for Southern stew, cough, alongside whatever else I order, cough, every time we visit. That smoky, slightly spicy flavor is the stuff dreams are made of, so I decided to combine it with my love of soups to create hearty Chicken Gumbo Soup!

The “holy trinity” of Southern cooking – bell pepper, celery, and onion – is sauteed with hearty bacon and chicken, then simmered in chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, and Cajun seasonings before long grain rice is added to soak all the flavors up. This is so multi-bowl worthy!

Seriously! I scooped up every last drop from my bowl then filled it right back up to the brim again. It is so delicious!

Super thick and luxurious from a quick roux – flour cooked in fat used to thicken up soups or stews – and not as fussy as a traditional gumbo, which you kind of have to watch, this soup is a perfect fall and winter dinner.

Start the Chicken Gumbo Soup by browning 3 strips chopped bacon in a large Dutch oven or soup pot (here’s the one I have!) over medium heat. Remove the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate then set aside, leaving 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings in the pot.

To the bacon drippings add 1 chopped small bell pepper (traditionally it would be green, but I could only find orange, red, and yellow at the store!) 2 chopped celery ribs, and 1 chopped small onion.

Season the veggies with salt & pepper, then let ‘em sweat for 5 minutes, or until they’re on their way to becoming nice and tender. I cannot HANDLE crunchy veggies in soups, so I like to let them get really soft!

To the softened veggies add 1-1/2lbs chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt & pepper. Seasoning each layer of ingredients will ensure our dish tastes just right in the end.

Also add 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning to the chicken. I was originally going to add cayenne pepper, but found this baby while rifling through my spice cupboard. It gives the dish an awesome, not-too-spicy red pepper and garlic flavor, plus it has paprika in it, which gives the soup a brilliant orange color. Never did find the cayenne pepper…

Next add 2 cloves minced garlic, let the chicken cook for 5 minutes, then sprinkle in 1/4 cup flour and stir constantly until the flour turns golden brown. This process creates the roux I mentioned, which gives the soup a rich, decadent flavor, and makes it thicken up nicely too.

After a few minutes, stream in 1 of 4 cups chicken broth then use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits that will have accumulated at the bottom of a pot up to this point. This is where all the flavor lives!

Once you’ve gotten everything scraped up, add the rest of the chicken broth, plus 28oz crushed tomatoes, and 2 cups water.

Followed by 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, for that classic southern flavor and spice.

Bring the soup and spices up to a boil, then add 1 cup long grain rice, and give the pot a big ol’ stir.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat down to medium-low, then let the soup simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is just barely tender, as it will continue cooking in the hot liquid. Give her a stir every couple of minutes to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Add the cooked bacon back into the soup then let it sit and thicken off the heat for about 10 minutes. Finally, scoop and slurp!

Chicken Gumbo Soup

Print this recipe!

Serves a crowd

Ingredients:
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
salt & pepper
1-1/2lbs chicken breasts, cut into-bite sized pieces and seasoned with salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
32oz chicken broth (plus more for reheating)
28oz crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more or less)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup long grain rice

Directions:

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy then remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside, reserving bacon fat in pot (add extra virgin olive oil if necessary to get 2 Tablespoons fat total in pot.) Add onion, bell pepper, and celery then season with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes, or until veggies are softened. Add chicken and Cajun seasoning then cook for 5 more minutes. Add garlic then cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Sprinkle flour over veggies and chicken then stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, until flour turns golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add about a cup of chicken broth then scrape browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add remaining chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, water, bay leaves, red chili pepper flakes, and salt then bring soup to a boil. Add rice then cover pot, turn heat down to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes or until rice is just barely tender (it will continue to cook and soften in soup.) Add cooked bacon back into the soup then let it sit and thicken off the heat for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve.

This has the exact same flavor profile as Jethros’ gumbo, but can be made easily at home! Toss in andouille sausage or kielbasa for even more flavor, or chopped fresh shrimp for a fun addition.

This recipe feeds an ARMY, btw, so halve it if your feeding a smaller crowd, or freeze the leftovers to enjoy later. Either way – enjoy your face off!

~~~~~

Workout of the Day: 35 Minute, 3.7 Mile Treadmill Workout

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Comments

  1. Lori 11.14.2012

    This looks so good! And I love soups! But I have a random question..I noticed we have the same exact Calphalon Dutch oven. Is yours almost black on the bottom?? I’ve done my best to scrub it but it never looks clean! Any tips?

    • Lola 11.16.2012

      I have a Martha Stewart brand dutch oven and it’s starting to get some discoloration on the inside bottom as well.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.16.2012

      It has a few light brown stains on the inside, but it’s not black. If you got it at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I guarantee they’ll take it back (no matter how long ago it is you got it,) or maybe call their customer service to see if you can get a replacement!

  2. Kristin this looks like the perfect comforting soup for a cold evening! Easy, healthy and satisfying! I never thought I would say that but I miss those fall chilly evenings, when you can make yourself a big bowl of warm soup or a delicious apple cinnamon crisp. I now live in Australia and we’re heading to…summer. For the first time in my life, I’ll make my Christmas shopping in shorts and summer dresses. So strange, I know.
    Anyway, thanks for this yummy recipe!

  3. Maria 11.14.2012

    Ooohh I was just talking about gumbo for Thanksgiving….that’s approps right???

    Girrrrllll get yourself some Tony Chachere’s for Cajun seasoning. You’ll never turn back. It’s as popular as salt around these southern (in Denver) parts! :)

    • Abby Stensland 11.15.2012

      TOTALLY agree about Tony C’s…my BFF is from NOLA and got me hooked on it! So good, I use it on everything!

  4. Lauren 11.14.2012

    The first time I ever had gumbo was in NOLA this past summer and it was outstanding! I never thought to recreate it though. My mom used to make shrimp creole which is sort of similar and it was honestly one of my favorite dishes growing up.

  5. Barbara Leckstein 11.14.2012

    Lori – try Calphalon Dormond, it’s a cleaner made for these pots. Your’s may be too far gone, but try it anyway, this stuff is unbelievable.

  6. Mandy B 11.14.2012

    Oh man, that looks spic-y! My husband would totally go for that. My chicken gumbo looks so PG-13 in comparison.

  7. Tessa 11.14.2012

    This looks amazing. Love that it’s a non-seafood version too!

  8. Julia 11.14.2012

    Wow this looks so good! What size dutch oven do you use? I am thinking about asking for one for Christmas and am debating what size to ask for?

    • Julia 11.14.2012

      Oh just clicked and saw it is an 8 quart! Nevermind! :)

  9. Kalli 11.14.2012

    I work at Jethros n Jambalaya! Hope I get the pleasure of serving you sometime!

  10. Trisha 11.14.2012

    Come to think of it, I’m not really sure I know the difference between jambalaya and gumbo either! But this stuff looks divine, whichever Cajun dish it may be… ;)

  11. Loretta E 11.14.2012

    Oh my gosh! I want to eat at a place that has their drinks in mason jars! My hubby would be so pumped if I made him this gumbo…

  12. Jenny 11.15.2012

    Holy yum! Can’t wait to make this. I love me some soup. Might have to hold off til next week tho since I made a big batch of your harvest chicken quiona one this evening :)

  13. making this soooo soon! i always want to attempt to make gumbo but all the recipes i look up take for-ev-er. this is perfect.

  14. Kristin Brandt 11.15.2012

    Hi Iowa Kristin, it’s North Dakota Kristin! :) This soup looks so delicious; however, I don’t like chunks of tomato in my soup (it’s a texture thing, not a taste thing), what would you recommend I substitute for the crushed tomatotes?

    Thanks a bunch!

    PS – Love your blog!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.15.2012

      Ew, totally agree – gag! Crushed tomatoes aren’t chunky but if it’s still too much for you, I’d just zip the can through a blender or food processor first!

  15. Tiffany 11.15.2012

    Kristin, Did you cook the chicken before you threw it in the pot? It looked cooked in the picture so I wasn’t sure if you just took the pic after it had cooked a little or cooked the chicken ahead of tim. Thanks this recipe looks amazing!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.16.2012

      Nope it went in raw and then cooks for 5 minutes, then finishes cooking in the broth, water, and crushed tomatoes!

  16. Becky 11.15.2012

    YUM!! This is totally going on my shopping list after Thanksgiving :) Also, I love that you continue to post daily treadmill workouts. It is so difficult to stay motivated during the cold, winter months in the Midwest (I live in MN). THANKS!

  17. Hi Kristin!! I thought I would respond and help clarify your confusion with jambalaya and gumbo so maybe Ben doesn’t have to next time :) Jambalaya is rice based and can be mixed with various meats but it’s always rice. Kinda similar to pasta salad. In fact, we do make some pastalaya sometimes down here. Gumbo is like a soup and is generally roux based. Your addition of tomatoes makes this a Creole version rather than a Cajun version. Hope that helps!!

  18. I can’t remember the last time I had gumbo let alone made it – this looks delicious!

  19. Printing this right now!

  20. Linda W 11.15.2012

    IGE saves the day! I was looking for a breakfast casserole to make. Check that off the list. Next,I could not find the printed copy of your Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breats with Wild Rice Stuffing that I want to make for Thanksgiving dinner! I “misplace” recipes now and then. My system is not fool proof. Are they on the end table by the couch where I sit and browse? Is in with the many other print outs downstairs? Did I stick it in a cooking magazine or cookbook to mark a page? Is it on the kitchen table with the other recipes I hope to make? The panic/frustration was starting to set in even though I knew the recipe would be online and my husband kept telling me to quit looking for it and it would show up. Sure enough here it is online, safe and sound. Thanks, Kristin!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.16.2012

      Ah! Glad to hear it worked out in the end! I hate misplacing things (which happens all the time!)

  21. Marissa 11.15.2012

    Looks delish!! When I go to put it in my recipe box the apple cheddar chicken tartines shows up!

  22. Steve Perry 11.15.2012

    Kristin, if want some good Cajun food try FAT TUESDAYS on S.W.9TH, one block north OF ARMYPOST RD. The owner/cook is from NOLA. check it out.

  23. Lola 11.15.2012

    Is this a dumb question? Maybe. Did you cook the chicken with the veggies or did you throw it in already cooked?

  24. Kim 11.16.2012

    This is technically not a gumbo. Gumbos are roux based. This is more of a creole.

  25. This sounds like it packs soo much flavor! I’ve been craving soup lately now that it’s finally cold in California. Gumbo sounds like a perfect solution :)

  26. Jennifer 11.21.2012

    Hi Kristen, quick question, do you add the bacon back in to the soup or is it just cooked for the fat and flavor?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.25.2012

      Great catch, Jennifer! Add it back in when the rice is done cooking.

      • Jennifer 11.28.2012

        Thank you!!

  27. Paige 11.27.2012

    Made this last weekend and it was really yummy! Thanks for yet another super easy and tasty recipe. Your blog is getting me out of my dinner rut. This week I’m trying the cheesy chicken and rice soup (I also take for lunches). Cheers!

  28. […] this looks SO GOOD TO ME! Chicken Gumbo Soup Made it this week! It was […]

  29. cheryl 12.15.2012

    I am planning to make this for our office next week. I have an eight quart pot, can I double this recipe in that size pot? Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.17.2012

      I believe the Dutch Oven I cooked this in was an 8 quart and it was pretty much full to the brim!

      • cheyl 12.18.2012

        OK, I cooked the chicken gumbo soup at our office today on my new induction burner and it was a HUGE HIT!!! Even the mailman loved it. It was quick and simple, thanks Kristin!!

  30. […] Chicken Gumbo Soup […]

  31. Gloria 02.13.2013

    Thank you for sharing! I saw this on Pinterest this evening and immediately started cooking it for dinner tonight! I already had everything on hand. It was very easy…and my family LOVED it. The only thing I did different was cook the rice separately and then poured it over…mainly because my hubs doesn’t appreciate rice like the rest of us!

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  34. Rori 12.01.2013

    I was wondering why you didn’t add andouille sausage? Do you think it would be a good addition to this recipe?

  35. Tracy 02.09.2014

    I made this recipe this morning for my Hubby and his guys at work. It is a rainy blustery day here in Humboldt. I wanted to make something that would warm their insides! This is a great recipe and easy to follow. I just lifted the lid for a little taste…it is wonderful! Thank you!

  36. Sarah 02.22.2014

    Can you convert and make in a crockpot??

  37. Niki 09.16.2014

    Hello! Would it be similar cooking time to use brown rice or a brown/wild rice blend? Thanks!

    • Kristin 09.16.2014

      Cooking time for brown/wild rice is usually about double than white so I’d just check your specific package for recommended cooking time.

  38. Holly C 10.26.2014

    I just made this for my family and it was a big hit! Will definitely be making again and again! Thank you for sharing.

  39. Sarah 12.09.2014

    This look great! I am going to throw all of these ingredients in the crock pot and see how it turns out!

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