Brimming with chicken and vegetables, a pot of this soul-warming soup is easy to make with basic ingredients. A regional classic and a true family favorite!
(Look below the recipe card for a fun way to top this or another soup!)
The aroma of this soup takes me back to summer and the sweet scent of freshly-picked corn. It’s a heart-warming and wholesome bowl －one that my husband says he could eat every night.
The recipe yields a good bit (about three quarts), and the leftovers are equally satisfying – perhaps more so, as the flavors meld and improve over time.
For a crowd, the recipe may easily be doubled. The soup also freezes well, putting a hot, comforting bowl within easy reach whenever needed.
For the very best sweet corn flavor, freshly picked, seasonal corn on the cob can’t be beat. But I regularly prepare this soul-warming soup with frozen corn, and it’s still delicious.
The recipe calls for Cope’s creamed corn, which is increasingly difficult to find. Though it enhances the classic sweet corn flavor of the soup, I have successfully substituted many times with a can of Green Giant creamed corn.
Rivels or no rivels?
First of all, what are rivels? Common in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, rivels are tiny egg dumplings made by dropping bits of batter into simmering broth until they rise to the surface. Fittingly, the word translates into “lumps.” In Germany, rivels are known as spaetzle.
There are two versions of traditional chicken corn soup – one with rivels and one with little egg noodles, often called Amish-style noodles. My version uses the latter, as it’s what my family has always preferred. It’s quicker and easier, too, and makes a gluten-free variation a snap.
Commonly, the noodles are simmered until very soft, adding a level of starchiness to the soup. I used to add them with the corn, but have begun adding the noodles in the final 10 to 15 minutes, which allows them to retain a hint more firmness. In a pinch, you could even omit the noodles and the soup will still be deliciously satisfying.
- 2 tablespoons (28g) olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1½ cups)
- 2-3 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3-4 carrots, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 bay leaves
- ⅛ teaspoon saffron (may substitute ⅛ teaspoon each sweet or smoked paprika and turmeric)
- 1 quart (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water (could use more broth)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 12-ounce package frozen corn (no need to thaw) or 2 lightly rounded cups fresh
- 1 10-ounce package frozen creamed corn (I use Cope’s brand; may sub canned creamed corn*)
- ½ cup small egg or Amish noodles (omit for gluten-free option)
- 3 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon sugar (enhances the corn flavor but doesn’t make the soup sweet)
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven. Sauté the onion, celery, and carrots until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, saffron, stock, water, and chicken. Bring just to the boiling point, then immediately reduce the heat and gently simmer (gentle heat = most tender chicken) for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken. (To avoid long, stringy shreds, I cut the breasts in half or thirds first.)
Meanwhile, add both corns and the noodles and continue to cook at barely a simmer. In about 15 minutes or when the noodles are just short of cooked, return the chicken to the pot. Continue cooking for a few more minutes or until the noodles are al dente and the chicken is warm. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the eggs, parsley, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
*Canned creamed corn is typically sold in 8- and 14-ounce cans. When I can’t find Cope’s, I purchase the 14-ounce can and use it all rather than having a small amount of extra.
How much salt? Amount of salt will depend on what type of broth/stock is used and personal preference. When using 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth and 2 cups of water, I typically add 1½ teaspoons plus another sprinkle to taste. It’s a big pot of soup, and sufficient seasoning does make the flavor shine.
Recipe first posted February, 25, 2012
For a fun and tasty alternative to a crusty roll or a side of crackers (the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch way), make a puff pastry topper:
To make a puff pastry soup topper:
- Preheat the oven to 400℉.
- Transfer the soup to soup crocks, large ramekins, or oven-proof bowls. The soup need not be piping hot, as it will heat more in the oven.
- Roll out a sheet of thawed puff pastry to ¼-inch thickness– it’s not a lot of rolling, but rather expands the sheet an extra inch or so in each direction.
- Cut a circle that’s about an inch wider than the diameter of your soup bowls. You can trace with a bigger bowl or roughly cut with a knife.
- Brush the circle on both sides with a beaten egg. Egg on the bottom will help it stick to the bowl. The egg on top will add golden color.
- Sprinkle with an optional pinch of flaky sea salt.
- Place the individual bowls on a rimmed baking sheet (for easy placement in and removal from oven).
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and nicely golden.
- Remove the soup from the oven and rest for 10 minutes or so. Especially when starting with hot soup, the soup will be quite steamy. The pastry also retains the heat, so take caution with the first bite!
- The puff pastry will puff more when it’s cold, so keep the thawed pastry refrigerated until ready to use.
- Depending on bowl size, one puff pastry sheet will be sufficient to cover 4 to 6 individual soup bowls. Scraps can be baked on a parchment-lined baking sheet and taste great.
- Pepperidge Farm puff pastry can be found in the freezer aisle of most large grocery stores. The pastry takes about 40 minutes to thaw at room temperature.
- For a gluten-free option, I’ve tested Gee Free puff pastry. It doesn’t puff very well, but the taste is quite good and the prep and baking directions are the same.