Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bayou Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from The Soupbox Cookbook

I have been in love with soups lately. Partially because it's cold outside, partially because I can easily freeze them, and mostly because they're fun to make. I bought my mother-in-law The Soupbox Cookbook for Christmas and, as expected, she offered to make us any recipe we wanted out of the book. We chose gumbo.

A quick note: Filé powder is remarkably hard to come by (at least here in the Boston area). We weren't able to find any in the local supermarkets, so we ordered ours from Amazon and added it to the leftover soup. It really does make a difference in the flavor, so if you're thinking about this recipe, you'll want to get your hands on this important ingredient before starting out.

This gumbo really is amazing. My one-year-old couldn't get enough of it and we hardly had any left to freeze after friends and family grabbed a bowl. 

Bayou Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
Excerpted from The Soupbox Cookbook

Bayou Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from the Soupbox Cookbook


1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil
1/2 cup (55 g) flour
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 lb (450 g) Andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
64 oz (1.89 liters) chicken stock
1 cup (190 g) long grain white rice
1 cup (150 g) frozen okra, thawed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tsp filé powder

Cooking Instructions

Mix the paprika, seasoned salt, and white pepper, and sprinkle liberally over the chicken. Warm the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Lower heat to medium-low and add the flour. Stir constantly with a wooden spatula to avoid burning for 15-20 minutes until a light caramel color is achieved; this is the roux that thickens the gumbo. Add the onion, pepper, and celery, and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage, garlic, thyme, and salt, and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the reserved chicken pieces along with the chicken stock and bring the gumbo to a boil. Then turn the heat to medium low and simmer the gumbo for one hour. After an hour, remove the chicken, allow to cool and pull the meat from the bones. Add the rice directly to the pot and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 - 25 minutes. Stir in the pulled chicken, the okra and the cayenne pepper to taste and cook for another 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Remove from the heat and stir in the filé powder. Serve in deep bowls garnished with scallions.

Cook's note: There is 'creole' gumbo and there's 'cajun' gumbo. Creole is the New Orleans French-Quarter style seafood gumbo, while Cajun gumbo uses more fowl and game meats, along with more peppers and heat. Filé powder is made from sassafras leaves and gives gumbo its distinctive flavor. In our recipe we cut the normal amount of okra and add only a touch of filé powder right at the end of cooking so that you can taste it, but it's not overpowering.

Serves 8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours


You need this cookbook. It's truly awesome.

The Soupbox Cookbook by Dru Melton

The Soupbox restaurant soups have received outstanding Yelp reviews, were voted the Best Soup in Chicago on Citysearch, and have been featured in local and national press and television including the Chicago Sun Times and on Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels show. The Soupbox Cookbook, authored by the chef and founders of the restaurant, features both creative and traditional soups, stews and chowders from customer favorites to great new recipes to try. All the soups are wholesome and nourishing for the whole family, and most of them take as little as 15 minutes prep time. Try the Rosemary Chicken Dumpling Soup for a new twist on a traditional favorite, or the Magnificent Mushroom and Barley Soup, light and healthy yet satisfying and packed with Vitamin B. Readers will also find Latin and Asian flavors, adapted to become new family favorites including the Spicy Mayan Chicken Enchilada Fiesta. The book, like the restaurant, features multiple vegan, gluten-free and low-sodium options, showing a commitment to the health needs of its broad range of customers…and now readers. The Soupbox first opened in 1995 and features 12 different soups a day with a rotating list of hundreds. A selection of customer favorites as well as new soups developed for this book—125 great soup recipes in total—have been created by founders and authors Jamie Taerbaum and Dru Melton, who have more than 35 years restaurant experience between them.