Imagine this: It’s a winter’s day, and the chill in the air goes right down to your bones. It’s time for lunch, or perhaps for supper, and you’re hungry for something that will warm you from the inside out. You know just what will hit the spot. Maybe you’re out and about, and you wonder, “What’s the best soup near me?” If you’re in Lancaster, Pa., the answer is easy. Swing by our Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant & Smorgasbord for one of our piping-hot scratch-made soups, including our traditional Amish chicken corn soup, still made from a recipe that’s been in the Smucker family for generations.
Pennsylvania Dutch Comfort Food
If you search for chicken corn soup recipes, you’ll probably find both Amish and Asian versions. The latter is similar to egg drop soup. Here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Dutch-style chicken corn soup has been a staple at church suppers and fall festivals since at least the early 1800s, if not before. And why not? It’s easy to make, hearty and delicious. You can serve it as an appetizer or enjoy it as a meal in itself. It has a few simple ingredients, which are plentiful in this part of Pennsylvania: chicken, corn kernels taken from the cob, and a starch—usually noodles or dumplings—to thicken it. It’s popular with locals and visitors alike—so popular that we always have it on our menu and our buffet, and we offer chicken corn soup to go, too.
As is true of many traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dishes, each family seems to have its own favorite recipe. Ours dates back to Anna Mary “Grussy” Smucker, also known as Grandma Smucker, who was featured in National Geographic in 1938. She made her chicken corn soup with Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles. She also added onions and celery and a bit of saffron, which adds a buttery yellow color, a slightly smoky aroma and a subtle sweet/savory flavor to the dish.
Good food, fresh from the farm, and gathering around the table have always played a big part of our Smucker family traditions, and Grandma Smucker was always at the heart of them. Today, we maintain that appreciation for fresh, wholesome ingredients prepared in a way that brings out their best flavors. In fact, some of the most popular dishes at our restaurant originally came from Grandma Smucker’s kitchen, and our family still approves every recipe we use in our restaurant and cafe.
How to Make Chicken Corn Soup
If you can’t stop by our restaurant, you can make Grandma Smucker’s chicken corn soup in your own kitchen. She preferred fresh corn kernels cut from the cob, but you can substitute frozen or canned corn. You can find our authentic Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles in the retail section of the Bird-in-Hand Bakery & Cafe or use your favorite brand.
- 4 lbs. stewing chicken or chicken breasts
- 3 qts. water
- 2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. saffron
- 1-1/2 c. celery, diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 c. noodles, uncooked
- 1 qt. corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
- Optional Hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Place chicken in a large kettle with water, salt, pepper and saffron. When the chicken is tender, remove it from the kettle.
Debone the chicken. Strain the broth and bring it to a boil. Add celery, onion and noodles. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Add corn and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add the chicken and heat thoroughly. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
Grandma Smucker’s chicken corn soup goes great with a salad or steamed vegetables. Try it with fresh-baked bread or rolls from our bakery, breadsticks or cornbread.