Between the seasons: Chicken and Corn Chowder
Now is that odd, in-between time of harvest, when tomatoes, peaches, and sweet corn are still around, but fall’s first apples and squashes and pears are coming into their own. It’s also the first time in a long time that the weather’s been cool enough to justify soup.
I like soup. A lot. If it were cold enough year-round, I would totally make it year-round. And when I say “soup,” I don’t mean that wussy pureed stuff. My favorite kinds of soup are quite chunky, but with plenty of good broth for dipping bread in. And nothing is more perfect for dipping bread in than chicken broth.
I’ve read a lot about chicken and corn chowder (in Amish circles sometimes known as chicken rivvel soup). But I’d never made it before now.
I went to the farm stand down the street and got 6 ears of sweet corn (along with some giant tomatoes and gingergold apples). I came home, shucked the corn and got as much of the silk off as I could, then washed the ears. A serrated knife made quick work of cutting the kernels off the cob and I scraped them for the milk, too. I then put half of the corn (which looked like a ton on the big platter I was using) into a labeled freezer bag and popped it in the freezer. In retrospect, I could have easily used all of it in the soup.
Then I simmered the cobs in water until it was milky and the cobs had shrunk. But you can skip this step if you want. I just wanted every ounce of corny goodness out of those cobs!
Then I peeled and pared a few local red potatoes (which were excellent, by the way), scraped and sliced one giant carrot, and peeled and sliced two small storage onions into half moons. They all got popped in the pot of cooled corn cob stock (you can use plain cold water) and brought to a boil. At which point I added a large bone-in chicken breast (or really, two breasts attached to the breast bone). I simmered the veggies and chicken until the chicken was done. Then I pulled it out and took the meat off the bone and returned it to the pot. In went the remaining corn and some milk, along with salt and pepper. Then I made some egg dumplings and dropped them in by teaspoonfuls. Either I didn’t let them boil long enough with the lid on, or they just weren’t that good, but they were kind of mushy. I think I like the dense, noodle-like dumplings better in this kind of soup.
Still, it was pretty darn good! And we have a ton leftover, despite having already made three meals (for two people) of the stuff. I think we will eat more tomorrow, and then it will get packed into the freezer.
And for those of you who prefer more straightforward recipes:
Chicken and Corn Chowder
1 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
2-3 medium red potatoes, scrubbed, skin-on
1-2 ribs celery (I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use any)
1 large carrot
2 smallish or 1 large onion
corn cut off of at least 3 ears fresh (or at least 1 cup frozen corn), plus scraped corn milk
salt and pepper
Slice onions into half-moons, slice carrots into similarly-sized pieces, cut potatoes in half lengthwise, then again, then slice into thick chunks. If using, slice celery into half inch slices. If you remember to, soften the onion in a little oil or chicken schmaltz, otherwise add onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery (if using) to several quarts of cold water (to cover by several inches). Bring to a boil. Add chicken and reduce to simmer. Simmer until chicken is done. Remove from pot and take meat off of bones and skin (save bones and skin to roast and turn into more stock later). Cut or tear meat into bite-sized portions and return to pot. Add corn and as much milk as you like. Simmer (but do not boil) a few minutes more until well-heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. If using, drop in dumplings and cover. Simmer for at least 10 minutes covered to cook dumplings through (the flour from the dumplings will also make the soup thicker and a little creamier). Serve hot with buttered bread and/or a green salad.
This recipe comes from a 1957 cookbook called “American Cooking” by Sidney W. Dean.
“3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scant teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
Milk to make a thick batter
“Whisk together dry ingredients, add egg and mix thoroughly with enough milk to make a stiff batter. Drop this mixture, 1 teaspoon at a time, into the hot broth – and do not overdo the teaspoons for these dumplings will balloon unbelievably.”
Yeah…. I totally added too much milk and therefore the dumplings were way too soft. Almost like a batter I was drizzling into the broth. They turned out okay, but go easy on the milk when you’re making these! And, like all dumplings, cook them in simmering broth with the lid on for at least 10 minutes. No peeking.
And that’s it! Delicious, filling, not too fattening, with yummy vegetables. My favorite kinds of soups.
What do you cook in this in-between season? What autumnal foods are you looking forward to?