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Lancaster County Chicken-Corn Soup

Lancaster County Chicken-Corn Soup
In almost any American home, regardless of ethnic background, chicken soup enjoys a reputation as a preeminent comfort food. Whether embellished with noodles, egg yolk, grain, dumplings, matzo balls or a mélange of seasonal vegetables, it soothes body and soul. This Pennsylvania Dutch soup gives fresh appeal to the venerable idea, enticing us with the fragrance of saffron and indulging us with a bounty of quick homemade noodles and summer-sweet corn. Not as heavy as some German-American dishes, it's still hearty, easily capable of supporting an extra handful or two of limas, sliced green beans, chopped spinach, or other vegetables from the garden or fridge.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 105 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.


  • 1 chicken, 3 to 3 1/2 lb., cut into 6 to 8 pieces,
      or 3 to 3 1/2 lb. chicken parts
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

For the noodles:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 2 celery stalks, minced, plus 1 Tbs. minced
      celery leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. crumbled saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten


Place the chicken in a large heavy saucepan or stockpot and cover it with the water. Add the onion and garlic, then bring just to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until very tender, about 1 hour. Skim the foam and other impurities from the top as they surface.

Meanwhile, make the noodles. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and salt. Stir in 3/4 cup of the flour, about 1/4 cup at a time. The dough should be no longer sticky and stiff but still pliable. Add more flour, if needed, by the spoonful until the texture is right. On a floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into noodles 1/2 inch wide and several inches long. Let the noodles stand, uncovered, to dry briefly, about 30 minutes. If they need to stand longer, refrigerate them, uncovered, until ready to use.

When the chicken is ready, remove it from the pan and set aside until cool enough to handle. If about one-third of the liquid has not evaporated while simmering the chicken, continue cooking the stock a few minutes more to reduce it further. (The soup can be made to this point a day or two in advance, cooled, covered and refrigerated. Skim the fat from the stock if you wish.) Shred the chicken into bite-size chunks and reserve it, discarding the skin and bones.

Add the corn and celery to the soup. In a small bowl, stir together a few spoonfuls of the stock and the saffron and pour the mixture back into the pan. Continue cooking for 15 minutes more. Increase the heat to high. When the soup comes to a boil, stir in the noodles and parsley and cook until the noodles are tender, about 10 minutes. Put the egg in a small bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup of the soup liquid, then gradually whisk the mixture back into the soup to thicken it. Return the chicken to the soup and heat it through. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately.
Adapted from American Home Cooking, by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison (Broadway Books, 1999).