Have you tried Chicken and corn soup, Chinese style before?
There is a nostalgic feeling evoked my childhood memory whenever I made this soup.
My mother used to cook this often, constitute the creamy soup directly from a can of cream corn. She only took twenty minutes to prepare it, much quicker than most of the western style creamy soup. Perhaps simplicity is the reason why my mom made it so often, which has been the traditional soup for most of the Cantonese family.
I strongly suggest you try to make the chicken and corn soup for your next meal. The ingredients are easy to get. What you need is chicken meat, egg, sweet corn, a can of chicken broth and some commonly available seasonings.
Cream corn in a can
Cooking chicken and corn soup by using the readily available cream corn in a can like my mom is the easiest way.
I bet you would like to prepare something easy!
Moreover, there is a wide margin of error. You will not fumble even you make mistakes:)
Sound good this is a foolproof recipe, right?
Before I review my mom’s recipe, let me briefly mention that there are two types of Chinese soup base on the texture and appearance.
Two types of Chinese soup
You may be wondering why some Chinese soups are thick like chowder, and some are thin like consommé. This confusion is due to using the word ‘soup’ to describe both thick soup 羹 and thin soup 湯. This two Chinese character represents exactly the thickness of the soup, much like the word, consommé, chowder, broth, and congee in English with a distinct appearance and meaning.
Non-Chinese may find that it is confusing to understand what the Chinese means by soup. They will dumbfound the bowl of soup they order looks like clear broth with only a few ingredients.
Many single boiled and double boiled Chinese soup may just look like consommé, and you will be surprised by the complex flavor result from the various elements in it after hours of slow boiling. Thin and clear soups are also very common in other Asian countries. Tom Yam soup of Thailand and Miso soup from Japan are two typical examples of such preparation, which the Chinese terms it as 湯 (pronounced as tang) thin soup.
Chinese chicken and corn soup belong to the thick soup category, which is called 羹. Thick soup can be as exotic as shark’s fin soup, or as familiar as the home cooked egg drop soup. Chicken and corn soup is the grander version of egg drop soup, enhanced with chicken meat and sweet corn.
By now you should know that I am showing how to make the thick soup in this post, which is called 羹(pronounce as geng), much like a chowder or western cream soup.
You may also want to try the Hot and sour soup, which popular in Northern China.
How to make chicken and corn soup- The ‘lazy’ vs. ‘from scratch’ method
There are two ways to make chicken and corn soup. If you want to whip up the soup quickly, just head over to the grocery shop for a can of cream corn like my mom. Alternatively, get your fresh corn and prepare it from scratch. Both are acceptable and taste fantastic. Make it from scratch is a bit tedious. Most of the homemakers in Asia prefer to cook it from the cream corn in the can. However, if you want to try to make the chicken and corn soup from scratch, you can follow my recipes below.
Step 1- Cut the chicken and marinate
Chicken and corn soup is best to make with breast meat. Some recipes suggest to mince the chicken meat, but I find that small cubes of 2 mm (brunoise) give a better texture to the soup.
Whether you like to use minced meat or cut it into cubes is your personal preference. No matter which way you choose, it is important to marinate the meat. Imagine what happens to the breast meat after boiling in the soup for a few minutes. The breast meat will become tough and tasteless. The cornflour and oil in the marinade helps to tenderize the meat, while the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and pepper add flavor to the meat.
The chicken meat will taste better if you marinate it for a longer period, preferably overnight.
Step 2- Prepare the soup
There are two methods to make the soup. The first method is to cook with the cream corn in a can. I am using the standard can of cream corn which is about 400g to 420g. The second method is to use fresh corn to prepare from scratch.
Prepare with fresh corn
It is not difficult to prepare from scratch. Place the corn in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Then cover it and let it simmer for about twenty minutes. Remove the corn and use a sharp knife to remove the corn from the cob.
Measure 400ml of the water you used to boil the corn. Put half of it into a blender along with the corn. Blend until the corn becomes a paste, which takes about two minutes.
Pour the corn paste into a pot. Add the remaining half of the corn water plus 200ml of chicken stock. Now you have a pot of homemade cream corn broth.
Prepare with cream corn in the can
Empty a can of cream corn, the chicken stock, and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. I am using my homemade chicken broth, but most grocery shop and supermarket are selling the ready-made chicken broth. If you think you just want to use water, I suggest increasing the amount of chicken meat from 75g to 120g or more to give more chicken flavor to the soup.
Adjust the amount of seasoning
I do not specify the amount of salt and pepper in the recipe for a reason. The amount of salt and pepper depends on whether you are using water, or stock that contains salt and pepper. The best way is to taste it after the soup has come to a boil and before adding the egg.
If you want to have a very smooth soup, do not cut the corn too close to the cob and blend the corn for at least 2 minutes.
Step 3- Add the marinated chicken
This is the step you need to pay more attention to even though chicken and corn soup is a very forgiving recipe.
Add a large ladle of boiling soup to the chicken meat in a large bowl. Break up the small pieces of chicken meat by stirring it. The hot soup will partially cook the chicken (and the cornstarch), and eventually, they will separate into individual pieces. After that, add the partially cooked chicken meat into the pot.
The chicken meat will stick together if you add the uncooked chicken directly into the soup. It can be quite a hassle to break it up in the pot.
Cooked the chicken meat over low heat. Vigorous boiling can toughen the chicken meat. The chicken meat should have been cooked once the soup return to a boil. Remove from heat.
Simmer the chicken slowly. The meat will become tough if it is cooked over high heat or prolonged cooking.
Step 4- Thicken the soup
The last step to making the soup is to thicken it with cornflour slurry.
Cornflour will form lumps when it mixes with a large pot of boiling soup. The way to overcome this issue is to make a slurry by mixing 1 part of cornflour and two parts of cold water. Turn down the heat of the soup. Pour the cornflour slurry into the boiling soup slowly while stirring the soup continuously with a ladle or a pair of chopsticks. The result is a silky smooth and creamy texture.
Cornflour is the choice for thickening the soup. Ordinary cake flour will break down quickly, and very soon the soup will turn watery.
Finally, beat an egg and add to the soup slowly while stirring continuously. The egg will eventually thicken the soup to the perfect texture.
If you want to produce very fine strips of egg, remove the soup from heat and pour in the egg liquid in a very fine stream. Keep stirring continuously in one direction.
Chicken and corn recipe (with corn from a can)
- 1 can cream corn, , about 400g
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 400 ml water
- Salt, , to taste
- ground white pepper, , to taste
- 75 g chicken breast meat
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cornflour
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon corn starch, mix with 2 tablespoons of water
- Heavy cream, , to garnish
- scallion, , cut to 2mm length
- Heat up ingredients A in a pot, bring it to boil.
- Finely cut the chicken breast into 2mm cube (brunoise)
- Marinate the chicken with other ingredients in B for 30 minutes.
- Place the chicken meat in a large bowl. Add a ladle of the boiling soup into it. Stir the chicken meat until it is semi cooked and no longer stick together.
- Pour the chicken meat into the pot and cook until it is cooked.
- Add the cornflour slurry until it reaches the desired thickness.
- Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
- Beat an egg. Stir the egg liquid into the soup.
- Garnish with a dollop of cream and scallion, Serve.
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Serving Size:3 bowls
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 932mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 15g