There are two distinct versions of chicken corn soup; one is part of Amish cuisine and involves chicken, corn, vegetables and small flour dumplings in a broth thickened with eggs. The second commonly found version of chicken corn soup is Asian and resembles an egg drop soup; it is made from chicken, corn, eggs and pepper, sometimes with noodles added. A variety of recipes exist that yield slightly different results, with some removing all the chicken and leaving only the corn and the broth, while others include the shredded meat from an entire chicken. Most versions include some type of starch in the dish, such as dumplings or noodles, as well as relying on the starchy milk from the corn to help thicken the dish. When completed, chicken corn soup can be served as an appetizer or, when filled with hearty ingredients, eaten as a complete meal.
Amish chicken corn soup originated among the Pennsylvania Dutch in the U.S. It could be made very simply by boiling chicken, corn, salt and pepper in a pot. More elaborate recipes include other ingredients and spices, specifically saffron. Saffron is called for in many Amish recipes for chicken corn soup, primarily because it traditionally has been grown by the Pennsylvania Dutch in the areas around Philadelphia and Lancaster County.
A more complete recipe for Amish chicken corn soup starts by boiling the chicken with onions and celery. The chicken is removed from the pot when cooked, and the remaining broth is skimmed to remove the fat. Corn is then cut from the cob and added to the soup, with the corn's milk being carefully gathered and added as the kernels are cut away. Pepper, saffron and sometimes other spices such as lovage are added. Water, flour and eggs are combined to form dough that is dropped into the simmering soup to make small dumplings called rivels, completing the dish.
Chinese chicken corn soup starts in much the same way, with the chicken being boiled in a pot before being removed and the broth skimmed of fat. The corn and all its milk is added to the soup and simmered. Eggs are then beaten and slowly drizzled into the soup, thickening the broth and sometimes creating long, velvety strings of cooked egg. Noodles can be added to the soup or the chicken can be shredded and placed back in the soup along with some white pepper and green onions. For a thicker consistency, a cornstarch slurry can be added near the end.