December 5, 2012 by Jason Rice MD
I love making soups. You can, for the most part, combine any group of ingredients you like with a little stock in a pot, and it’ll come out pretty good. It’s a great way to utilize leftovers. It’s a great way to make a meal out of seemingly unrelated ingredients you have around the house in a pinch. And, soup is one of my favorite comfort meals on a chilly day. (Mmm…chili…NO! That’s another post…must…wait…for…chili…)
This particular soup was born out of my love of cajun foods. I used to buy boxed mixes for gumbo and jambalaya, but those boxed mixes are loaded with terrifying quantities of salt, and just didn’t cut it for me as far as flavor. I have no training in cajun cooking, so I don’t really know what makes something technically gumbo or jambalaya, but I use a lot of my favorite flavors from both dishes for this soup – hence the goofy name. Plus, no one can tell me this isn’t actually “gumbolaya” because, as far as I know, there is no such thing.
There aren’t a lot of pictures to go with this post, and the post itself will be pretty short. Making soup is fairly straightforward, and if you don’t do it the same way I did it, it’ll still come out great. That said, my one piece of advice when making soup is to try to layer flavors. What I mean by that is that you want to cook all the components in the same pot so that all those good flavors from the cooking process remain in the soup and you want to add the ingredients in some type of sequence that allows you to cook each ingredient properly.
As always, this is just a template and can very easily be adjusted to your tastes. I make a lot of soups, and I will post some more soups over the colder months this winter for sure to give you new base recipes to work from. Additionally, you will notice that I use a lot of canned ingredients in this recipe – this is mainly because soups are a convenience food for me. I still make every effort to avoid overly processed canned goods, and I stay away from high-sodium products. Any of the canned ingredients can be replaced with fresh/frozen ingredients if you have the time and the desire.
- 1 package of ground turkey
- 32 oz of vegetable (or chicken) stock, unsalted
- 1 can of diced tomatoes including the juice in the can(I like the no added salt variety, and I used a basil/oregano variety this time)
- 1 can of diced new potatoes (drained)
- 1 can of red beans (thoroughly rinsed)
- About 6 cloves of minced garlic
- 4-5 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 bag of frozen chopped okra, thawed
- 1 package of “ready rice” (I use the brown rice version. It comes in a plastic bag and cooks in the microwave in 90 seconds – the ultimate convenience rice, and it’s pretty tasty too)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Worchestershire sauce
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Cajun seasoning (optional)
In a large stock pot, brown the ground turkey with some olive oil. I (big shock here) like to season the turkey with a little black pepper and worchestershire sauce. When the turkey is browned, remove it from the pot and place in a bowl to the side, reserving the oil and any fat that came from the meat in the pot. Keep the oil hot in the pot and add the chopped onion and celery. Once the onion and celery start to soften, add the okra, potatoes and garlic. Continue cooking and season with some black pepper. Next, add the tomatoes including the juice in the can and bring this mixture to a simmer. If you are making this for people who like things a little spicier, this is where I add the cajun seasoning and/or hot sauce. For this batch, I used 8 large shakes of Frank’s hot sauce and about 2 tablespoons of a store-bought cajun seasoning blend.
Next, add the meat back into the pot and stir to combine everything. Add the vegetable stock and stir again, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen and cooked on goodness that may be under all the meat and veggies. While the stock is warming up, microwave your rice according to the directions on the package. Add the rice and the rinsed beans. I usually put a few more grinds of black pepper on top and let the soup come up to simmer here. Once the soup has simmered for a little bit, taste a little of the broth (don’t burn yourself), and this is the point where you can adjust the seasoning. Add hot sauce, cajun seasoning, worchestershire sauce or whatever else you feel will enhance the flavor. A little V8 or other vegetable juice is a great booster in soups, too. Andouille sausage is also a great alternative (or addition) to the turkey, but obviously higher in fat/salt, and probably less kid-friendly.
I like to let my soup simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving, and I always leave my soups uncovered while they simmer as this tends to reduce the broth down a bit and concentrate the flavors. Serve it with a little bread or some oyster crackers, and enjoy!