Chicken Gumbo Soup – Better Than the Can

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Chicken Gumbo Soup, that childhood favorite from the red-labeled can is now within your reach – homemade, tastier, and better for you!

bowl of chicken gumbo soup with a ladle

When I was growing up, soup can from a can with a red label. If we were lucky, that can of soup cost only 15 cents at the grocery store, at which time my dad would heap the cart high with the chicken noodle variety.

On days when Mom was doing the shopping, she let me choose my favorite kinds. Sometimes I’d choose Chicken and Stars, sometimes Bean with Bacon, but more often than not I’d choose Chicken Gumbo Soup.

California-born and bred, I had no idea what true gumbo was like or what the heck that funny green vegetable was floating in there, but I sure loved Chicken Gumbo Soup.

Fast forward 15 years and I was a newlywed, having a grand old time playing Donna Reed in my little 200-square foot studio apartment that I shared with my husband.

One of our friends had gifted us a huge soup ladle and a copy of A Feast of Soups. Her advice to me was to learn to make soup, as that was an economical way to feed guests. You could extend hospitality without ending up in the poor house yourself.

And it’s true! Soups are good food. And good cheap eats.

That soup cookbook, originally published in 1982, back when I was ten and enjoyed canned soup, became a very important part of my food education. While there aren’t many soup recipes in that book that I make, the soup making INSTRUCTION in that book is invaluable. I have read it cover to cover several times over, and owe much to Ms. Heriteau for having taught me to make soup. If your family enjoys soups, then it is worth it to hunt down a copy of this book.

What is gumbo soup made of?

This Chicken Gumbo Soup recipe is an adaptation of one included in my favorite soup cookbook. The recipe, as named in the book, is called, “California Chicken Gumbo for a Mob.” I have no idea why it would be called Californian, and it only barely feeds my family of 8 at one sitting. But it is super good.

The original directions call for you to saute the butter, ham, celery, onion, pepper, and rice. Stir in the flour and a cup of chicken broth and then dump all the ingredients into a slow cooker, including uncooked chicken pieces. However, I prefer to make this Chicken Gumbo Soup with cooked chicken and to cook the soup itself on the stove top. I like the textures better. But, know that you can absolutely make it in the slow cooker if you like.

Here are all the ingredients:

  • Vegetables – I used onions, celery, bell pepper, okra, and canned tomatoes
  • The Proteins- I used cooked chicken, ham, and black eyed peas
  • Rice
  • Chicken stock
  • Flour (to thicken)
  • Seasonings – salt, pepper, parsley, dill weed

What gives gumbo its flavor?

The flavor of a gumbo comes from making a roux.  A roux is a mixture of flour that is browned in either butter or olive oil.  It will thicken the soup and also gives it great flavor. 

How do you make chicken gumbo?

  • Saute the vegetables – In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, heat the butter and saute the onion, celery, and pepper until the onion begins to be translucent, about 7 minutes.
  • Add the rice and ham – Add the ham, rice, and flour and stir for 3 minutes.
  • Add the stock – Add one cup of the stock and stir to combine.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer. Add the remaining stock and the okra, tomatoes, peas, and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. In the last ten minutes of cooking, stir in the chicken and dill weed. Serve soup, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

pot of chicken gumbo soup with a ladle and bread on the side

What’s the difference between a gumbo and jambalaya?

Well both are meat and rice dishes that have originated from New Orleans. However, they are distinctly different. A gumbo is a soup or stew that is thickened with a roux and has vegetables like celery, onions, and okra added to it.

A jambalaya, like my easy jambalaya with Italian sausage and shrimp, is more of a casserole type dish. 

Should gumbo be thick or soupy?

Even though it’s a “soup” it will be on the thicker side than a regular soup due to the roux that it’s made (flour cooked in the fat).

Can gumbo sit out overnight?

You want to make sure to not let the gumbo sit out overnight. Be sure to allow it to cool to room temperature, but after 2 hours make sure to store the gumbo, covered in an airtight container, in a refrigerator. 

How can I thicken gumbo without flour?

You can also use cornstarch to thicken the gumbo. An hour before serving, you want to combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of warm water (or stock) and make a slurry of it. Then whisk it together and add it to the soup.

 What side dishes go with Gumbo?

You can keep it simple and serve this with a simple garden salad like this tossed salad, or maybe a Quick and Easy Caesar Salad

And of course don’t forget the bread! A loaf of crusty french bread, or whip up some buttermilk cornbread that any Southerner would approve of. Or try my milk and honey cornbread version.

 

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Chicken Gumbo Soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Chicken Gumbo Soup, that childhood favorite from the red-labeled can is now within your reach – homemade, tastier, and better for you!
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken gumbo, chicken gumbo soup, gumbo soup
Servings: 4
Calories: 565 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper I use whatever color I have on hand
  • 1/4 cup diced ham
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 10 cups chicken stock I use homemade
  • 1 cup frozen sliced okra no need to thaw
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup canned black-eyed peas rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • fresh chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, heat the butter and saute the onion, celery, and pepper until the onion begins to be translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the ham, rice, and flour and stir for 3 minutes. Add one cup of the stock and stir to combine.
  2. Add the remaining stock and the okra, tomatoes, peas, and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. In the last ten minutes of cooking, stir in the chicken and dill weed. Serve soup, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
Nutrition Facts
Chicken Gumbo Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 565 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 42mg14%
Sodium 1073mg47%
Potassium 1132mg32%
Carbohydrates 55g18%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 945IU19%
Vitamin C 40mg48%
Calcium 88mg9%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chicken Gumbo Soup - Better Than the Can | Life as Mom

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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