This soup is a great feature dish for a Mardi Gras menu. It’s a spicy, delicious jambalaya soup with a full tomato and vegetable flavor and a perfect little bite of heat. You can serve it with crackers, a crusty bread, or vegan cornbread for southern authenticity!
A few things you can do ahead before making this soup: make your own vegetable broth and precook the rice.
When I make soups with rice, I always precook the rice because I don’t like leaving it in the soup to become soggy in leftovers. Precooking also removes any “rice mysteries” and I know the rice will be perfect in the dish every time. You’ve probably heard me preach on the method for cooking rice like you cook pasta. I love it! I cook rice this way because it doesn’t get gooey, it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn on the bottom, it’s perfect every single time, and it’s so easy! And bonus: it removes 50 – 80% of the arsenic in the rice! Some also recommend soaking the rice overnight before boiling, but I have never soaked mine.
To cook rice using this method, fill a soup pot or dutch oven with as much water as you can for it to safely boil, just as you would with pasta. If you prefer, you can salt the water. Bring the water to boil, add the rice and continue boiling the rice, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Keep checking the rice for softness and once it has reached the desired tenderness, drain it in a colander. Once it is thoroughly drained, place it in a cool bowl and fluff with a fork. Fluff a few more times if it sits for long before using. Cover and put any unused rice in the refrigerator. I always make extra rice so I’ll have some ready in the fridge over the following few days.
Once I have my precooked rice for any soup, I don’t add it to the pot of soup. When I serve my soup, I add the rice to each individual bowl, pouring the soup over it and stirring to blend before serving. This keeps the rice firm and chewy until it is served.
For ideas on making your own vegetable broth or stock, have a look at this article on The Kitchn. If you don’t make your own, the carton kind works great! I’ve used both.
This jambalaya soup recipe, adapted from Chef-Julia, also calls for thyme, fresh or dried. I used fresh when I made it, but only because I had some on hand. The dried thyme will work great in this soup.
If you don’t already, you *must* buy tomato paste in a tube! No more wasting the leftover tomato paste in that tiny little can. Just keep the tube on hand in the fridge until you need it. Cento makes a great organic tomato paste, available in most chain grocery stores.
Store bought Cajun seasoning works here, too, but you might as well make your own to have on hand! Have a look at these recipes for a Salt Free Cajun Seasoning and a Creole Seasoning.