Summer has arrived and so has the first crop of sweet corn but before it gets too hot I decided to make one of my favorite comfort soups – chicken and sweet corn soup. Personally, I prefer dark meat so I am using leg quarters and drumsticks from Grove Ladder Farm.
Even better is that I am using leg quarters and drumsticks from pasture-raised Cornish Cross chickens from Grove Ladder Farm. Tim and Chelsea Clarkson, owner/operators of the farm never have more than several hundred chickens in the pasture at a time. This enables them to give the care and attention that’s needed to growing only the best product. The chickens are housed in mobile pens/shelters that are moved every morning so that the chickens get fresh grass and pasture to peck and scratch for insects, worms, and grubs. As a result, they are leaner and more flavorful than commercial birds.
4 chicken leg quarters (2 Grove Ladder Farm packs)
1 medium to large yellow onion diced
2 (or more) garlic cloves minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 – 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 cups freshly cut Florida sweet corn (about 6 ears of sweet corn)
2 quarts sweet corn stock (see Preparation below)
1/2 cup tamale-grade masa (very finely ground corn meal)
1/2 cup of water (to make a slurry with the masa before adding to the soup)Note: You can use coarser corn meal like polenta but it will make for a less creamy if not gritty soup.
Cilantro or parsley leaves (optional garnish)
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Note: It’s May and the first crop of Florida sweet corn has begun showing up at local markets, and while I have used frozen sweet corn to make this soup it is usually only when fresh is not available.
Cut Corn, and Corn Stock (refer to above photo)
Note: This may be done a day or two ahead.
Remove the husks and as much of the fine strands of corn “silk” as possible, wash the cobs, pat dry; set aside.
Place a damp paper towel in the center of a large roasting pan, place a small cutting board on top of the paper towel (this will help keep the cutting board from sliding around), place the flat end of a corn cob on the cutting board and using a sharp knife carefully slice down the length of the cob to remove the corn.Note: You can cut each cob in half before this step to make it easier, and perhaps safer, to slice the kernels off the cob.
Measure what you need for the recipe and set it aside. If you have any left over put them in a freezer-safe, resealable plastic bag and place it in the freezer where it can stay for up to six months. (Mine never last that long!)
Place the shorn cobs in a large stockpot, add enough water to just cover the top of the cobs, bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer, cook for 30 minutes, remove and discard the cobs. Measure what you need for the recipe and set it aside or store in the fridge if doing this ahead of time.
Pour any remaining corn stock into a stainless-steel bain marie or other thin-walled pot, place the pot in an ice bath to cool quickly. Once cooled pour into freezer-safe plastic containers, cover, store in the fridge for up to seven days or in the freezer for up to six months
When You’re Ready To Make The Soup
Peel and dice the onion; set aside.
Peel and mince the garlic; set aside.
Wash and spin dry the optional cilantro or parsley leaf garnish; set aside.
Mix the masa (ground corn meal) with the water to make a slurry; set aside.
Separate (cut) the thigh from the drumstick on the leg quarters, pat dry all sides of the thighs and drumsticks with a paper towel; set aside.Note: You want to pat dry any meat that you intend to saute or brown in oil/fat for two reasons: first, excess moisture will “splatter” when it hits the hot oil/fat in the pan, second, excess moisture will hinder browning.
FOOD SAFETY TIP!Make sure to wash everything used in preparing raw chicken such as kitchen tools, cutting boards, containers, surfaces, and especially your hands in hot soapy water afterward to prevent cross-contamination.
Also, I use the added precaution against cross-contamination of using a yellow cutting board just for poultry.
Once you’re ready to begin cooking season all sides of the chicken thighs and drumsticks with salt and pepper.You want to do this only just before you start cooking because as meat comes into contact with salt it begins to release moisture so the longer the contact the more the moisture and you don’t want to put “wet” meat into a pan with hot oil.
Heat a medium to large soup pot over medium-high heat, wait a minute or two for the pot to warm up, add the oil, wait another minute for the oil to warm up then add the chicken, cook on one side two to three minutes, turn over the chicken and cook for another two to three minutes.
Remove the slightly browned chicken from the pot; set aside.
Add the onions to the pot, cook until translucent (about two to three minutes), add the garlic and sprigs of thyme, cook until aromatic, return the chicken to the pot, add the corn stock, cut sweet corn, and corn meal slurry, cook, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Taste for seasoning, add more salt or pepper if necessary.
Your chicken and sweet corn soup is ready!
Serve garnished with cilantro or parsley leaves!
Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup
This is part of a series of posts that are a collaboration between myself and Grove Ladder Farm, a small, family-run farm in Sarasota, Florida that specializes in pasture-raised, non-GMO, soy-free poultry for meat and eggs. I created recipes/dishes that featured their various products in order to provide them with photographs to use in their online and print marketing materials. The photos are used with their permission.