Thursday, 6 September 2012

Corn & Chicken Egg Drop Soup

This is a classic and popular soup in Chinese restaurants everywhere. Usually it's made with canned or frozen corn - and no reason why not - but it is much more delicate and delightful made in season with fresh corn.

I'm a little vague about how many servings this makes, because it depends upon what else you are serving. Mr. Ferdzy and I actually ate it all, 2 full bowls each, but it was our entire lunch. As part of a larger feast it would certainly stretch as far as for 8. Since it was our full meal, I was a bit more generous with the chicken, but if I made it as just one component of a larger meal I would use the lower amount. 

Really, this soup is very flexible. You could use fish broth and whitefish instead of chicken, or you could make it vegetarian by omitting both fish and chicken and using vegetable broth and an extra egg. I would probably like to add some finely diced lightly fried tofu to give it a little more textural interest in that case. And finally, to make this all year long, use a can of creamed corn and a handful of frozen corn instead of the fresh corn. Reduce the water to 1 cup in this case. 

Quick and easy as this recipe is, it's important to keep the temperature just right - it should be just simmering from the time the chicken goes in until it gets served. Don't let it boil hard, and don't let it get too cool to keep the ingredients cooking as they are added.

4 to 8 servings
40 minutes prep time

4 cups chicken stock
1" x 1" x 1" piece of fresh ginger
200 to 300 grams (1/2 pound) skinless boneless chicken
2 large cobs of corn
2 cups water
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 or 2 green onions OR 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Put the chicken stock into a generously sized pot (as more will be added) and bring to a boil. Peel and slice the ginger, and add the slices to the stock along with the piece(s) of chicken. If you use the green onion, mince the white parts of the onions and add them now too. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and let them cool enough to handle. Remove the slices of ginger and discard them.

Meanwhile, husk the corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. When the chicken and ginger come out of the soup, add the corn, along with all the water except for about 1/4 cup of it. Mix the starch and soy sauce into the remaining water, and add it to the soup, stirring constantly until it is slightly thickened. Keep the soup at a bare simmer throughout the rest of the cooking process. 

Break the egg into a small bowl and beat it well with a fork. 

Finely chop the chicken and return it to the soup. When the corn has been in the soup for about 5 minutes,  take the fork from beating the egg and use it to make the same beating motions in the soup. Pour in the egg, beating it into the soup until it forms small, set strands. Mix in the sesame oil.

Serve the soup, with the minced green onion tops or chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.

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