One of the most filling soups in my soup arsenal – Creole-style Jambalaya soup is simmered in homemade-in-the-pot chicken broth, tomato sauce, and paprika. Make it on Sunday and serve on Tuesday – it’ll be even better!
I recently learned that Jambalaya is the distant cousin of Spanish paella, which explains why I love it so much: Paella is one of my all time favorite rice dishes, especially when prepared over a smoky grill.
Jambalaya — and this version of Jambalaya soup — shares a similar ingredient base and flavor palate with paella, including a spot-on combo of chicken, seafood, and pork.
One highlight of Jambalaya soup is the holy trinity of aromatics: onions, bell peppers, and celery. As well known in cajun cooking as the mirepoix is to French, the holy trinity is a flavorful base for many dishes, including soup.
And look how beautiful it is in the bowl! Wise choice, Southern chefs. Perfectly on point. When simmered and seasoned with Creole spices and mixed into chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage .. oolala.
How to make the best Jambalaya Soup
Chicken: Soup gets an extra boost of flavor when you cook bone-in chicken right in the pot, creating a quick, homemade chicken broth. But if you’re short on time, don’t hesitate to take a few completely copacetic shortcuts. First, use your favorite chicken broth. Then, cook boneless chicken in the soup, or — for even more time savings — use rotisserie chicken (or leftover chicken).
If you’re using raw chicken, cook it with the sausage and skip the long simmer. If you’re using pre-cooked chicken, skip the long simmer and add the chicken at the same time as the shrimp.
Rice: I call for cooked rice in this recipe because I always have leftover or extra frozen rice on hand. But if you need to make fresh, you have a couple of options: cook the rice separately as the soup simmers, or cook the rice right in the soup. A separate preparation produces, I think, optimum texture. But cooking rice in the soup not only saves on cleaning an extra pot, but also thickens the soup efficiently, thanks to the starches. Either way, it’s a winner!
Creole seasoning: What is creole seasoning? It’s a tasty combination of herbs and spices you probably already have in your pantry — so, no need to buy another spice jar that will work its way to the back of the cabinet.
Here’s my go-to recipe for Creole seasoning. Check your paprika to make sure it’s still flavorful, and adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to match your heat tolerance.
For the full Fat Tuesday culinary experience, here are some scrumptious King Cake recipes to go with your Jambalaya Soup:
Let the Fat Tuesday festivities begin!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 - 2 pounds chicken parts, bone-in, skin-on
- 1 cup diced bell peppers (for color, use mixed red, green, and yellow)
- 1/2 heaping cup diced onions (about 1/2 medium onion)
- 1/2 cup diced celery (2-3 three ribs)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 6 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into half moons
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or one fresh stem of thyme
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 15 ounce can crushed or pureed tomatoes
- 8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
- kosher salt
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a roomy, 5 or 6 qt. Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and let sizzle for a few minutes. Flip and brown the other sides (does not have to be cooked through). Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
Add the peppers, onions, and celery, and saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (just 30 seconds or so). Sprinkle the Creole seasoning, smoked paprika, and flour over the vegetables. Stir to bloom the spices.
Move the vegetables to the side of the pot and add the sausage slices to the cleared area. Saute until the edges begin to brown, then stir into the vegetables.
Return the chicken to the pot, along with any juices in the bowl.
Add 4 cups of water to the pot, and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the bay leaf and thyme, then cover. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl, and let cool until it can be handled. Find and remove the bay leaf and thyme stem (if using fresh thyme). Stir in the rice, tomatoes, and shrimp. Slice the chicken into bite sized pieces, and add to the pot.
When shrimp is cooked - pink and opaque - give the soup a good stir and taste. Add salt and/or more Creole seasoning, as desired.
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