Chicken Gumbo Soup!

This is a really easy soup that my mother has made for years.  It's more of a soup to me than a true gumbo, but it does have some of the gumbo ingredients.  My version has even a few more of those ingredients, like the Cajun holy trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper.  Those are in most Creole or Cajun recipes.  It's a really fresh tasting soup and it's on the light and healthy side.  

You can use fresh or frozen vegetables in this and whichever ones you and your family likes.  The inclusion of okra is pretty key to a gumbo though and does help to thicken it.

Here is what you will need for this soup:

3-4 strips of bacon
2 Tbs. butter
3-4 boneless chicken breasts cut in bit size pieces
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup celery, sliced thin
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups water
2   16 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1  10 oz. bag mixed vegetables
2 cups sliced okra (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp. salt
dash of hot sauce, optional (I used Tabasco)
1 cup long grain rice

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, fry the bacon until crisp.  Remove to a plate.  Add the butter to the bacon drippings and melt.  Add the diced chicken and sauté until it's browned well.  Add the green pepper, celery, and onion (the Cajun Trinity as they call it) and sprinkle with the Cajun Seasoning and the black pepper.  Continue to sauté until the vegetables are tender. 

Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and vegetables and cook until it just starts to brown.   If the pan seems too dry, add a little oil or a little more butter.  Stir this around and don't let it stick.  This will thicken the soup and give it a nice thickness.  Slowly pour the chicken broth in while the pan is hot and scraping any bits from the bottom.  Continue to add the broth until it's all added and is just starting to thicken a little. 

Add the tomatoes, mixed vegetables, okra, water, hot sauce and additional salt.  Bring this all up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.   Add the rice and cook for about 30 more minutes.  The rice should be tender.  Crumble cooked bacon on the top of the soup before serving.


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