Hurricane Sally brought gloomy weather our way this week. With the change of sunny 80 degree humid weather to gray, rainy 60 degree days I needed something to, “Warm my bones,” as my granny used to say. So, my family became the recipients of a giant pot of Chicken Gumbo Soup, served with a few splashes of Tabasco sauce (if you dared), because that’s the way I grew up eating it.
Most of the women in my family cooked without recipes (and still do). Add a little of this and a little of that and voila dinner is served. The problem with that kind of cooking is that the next generation loses the recipe. I started this blog as a way to force myself to write recipes down for my children.
Since my mom never wrote this recipe down, I had to recreate the Chicken Gumbo Soup based on memories of the flavors and the ingredients. I came up with what I feel is a perfect rendition of the Chicken Gumbo Soup that my mom would make for us in the winter months (which was usually 1 day in November, December, and January in Georgia since winter months aren’t usually very cold and are placed sporadically).
My mom made Chicken Gumbo soup as a way to use up the frozen okra and tomatoes that had been harvested the previous summer. We always had frozen okra and tomatoes in the deep freeze from ours or a family member’s garden, but if you don’t have them no worries, this Chicken Gumbo Soup tastes great with store bought frozen okra and canned stewed tomatoes.
I usually don’t buy canned or boxed chicken broth. I make my own by boiling a chicken, or chicken pieces with the skin on, or if I happen to have boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I’ll use them too. If I make this soup from boneless, skinless chicken breasts I always add a large bouillon cube to the broth. I also feel like celery, carrots, and half of an onion add so much flavor to a stock, so I rarely leave them out. To make this an easy recipe you can use boxed or canned chicken broth and use a rotisserie chicken that you shred.
In the past I’ve always used regular stewed tomatoes for the recipe, but I didn’t have any in the freezer, and my local store only had canned Italian style stewed tomatoes. They worked out just fine for the Chicken Gumbo Soup, so in the future I would definitely use either plain or Italian style canned stewed tomatoes.
I add uncooked Minute Rice to this soup. It absorbs quite a bit of water, so if you feel like the soup doesn’t have enough broth on day two, add a little more water or extra chicken broth to thin it out when warming up the leftovers.
I hope that you’ll try this recipe today and leave a comment below. Also, for daily updates follow @lifeabovethecafe on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest using the social media icons found on this page.
Notes – If using store bought broth you may not need the extra salt or bouillon cube since store brought broth is already pretty salty. Taste and adjust based on your desired salt levels.
Homemade Stock for the Chicken Gumbo Soup –
Dice the vegetables up if preferred before adding them to the pot to make the homemade stock, I wait and dice them after they have cooked. This helps to keep the veggies from becoming too tender like they would in smaller pieces. If you prefer firmer vegetables dice more celery, carrots and onions up to add to the soup and discard the pieces used to make the stock.
In a large soup pot add in whatever raw chicken you decide to use, 2 stalks of celery, the carrots, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley flakes. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cooked them for about 30 minutes. If using larger pieces or a whole chicken simmer it for 45 minutes to an hour or until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooked, remove the chicken and vegetable pieces and dice everything up into bite sized pieces.
You may have more than 3 cups of chicken, but I save the extra chicken for another meal.
Skim the broth of any fat and bring it up to a low boil. Add 1 can of stewed tomatoes (I use either plain or Italian style). Use the can to measure out the frozen okra (2 & 1/2 can fulls) and then add the okra to the broth. Allow the tomatoes and okra to cook for 10 minutes, stirring often or until the okra is warmed through. After 10 minutes, pour 1 cup of instant rice and the 3 cups of diced chicken into the soup. Cook the soup for about 5 more minutes or until the instant rice is tender. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or garlic powder if needed.
This is delicious served with Tabasco sauce, which is how my family always ate it. Also, it’s even better on day two but may thicken up as it sits since it has rice in it. If the leftover soup thickens up too much, add a little more chicken broth or water to it when warming up the leftovers.