Warm chicken corn soup stills my soul as rain gushes in waterfalls down the woody roots of the banyan tree outside my balcony. Few things offer succour and sustenance like a bowl of homemade chicken soup, during these days of incessant downpours. This bowl, is a lemon and chilli-infused, Mexican-style chicken soup rather than the ubiquitous Chinese creamed corn version that we see dished out in melamine bowls by street food carts.
My chicken corn soup has tender, freshly-shucked, sunshine-yellow kernels of corn, plump and sweet. The monsoon is corn season here in India and stacks of fresh corn are seen everywhere; generally roasted over live coals and served with an anointing of lemon juice and quick rub of salt and chilli powder. The smoky aromas of roasted corn mingling with the smell of rain-soaked earth is the quintessential monsoon memory for most of my compatriots.
Housebound for a few days due to a particularly heavy spell of showers, the grey, sunless weather aroused a craving for a warm, satisfying bowl of chicken corn soup. The soup tastes best made with good chicken stock, should you have some on hand. But even without, it is delicious and a very forgiving chicken soup recipe. If you are planning to make stock specifically for this soup, remember to dunk in the corn stems once the kernels are removed. The juice in the still young stems makes the stock richer infusing it with a subtle sweetness.
Use the chicken cooked in the stock, shred the red meat (my preference, you could use any or all other meat if you desire) from the thighs to add to the soup. If you’re using pre-made stock, debone the chicken thighs and slice the meat into thin slivers (you could just buy boneless chicken thighs to make life easier). Cooked chicken must be added to the soup towards the end of so as to not overcook the meat, while raw chicken pieces must be cooked in the soup.
You will also need fresh, ripe tomatoes, lemon juice and hot jalapenos, serrano or a similar hot, green chilli. Cumin powder and dried oregano round off the Mexican soul of this chicken corn soup. On a grey day such as this, the red, yellow and green as well as the sweet pops of corn, the tang of lemon and and the savoury goodness of chicken brighten more than just my bowl. I’ve always thought a good bowl of chicken soup to be a thing of beauty, a bearer of more than mere deliciousness. It is in fact a bowl of comfort, assurance and love. Most of us can vouch that we’ve felt a warm glow take over our bodies and souls on partaking from a bowl of chicken soup. So on a slow day watching rain-bathed trees, a book by my side and my bowl of chicken corn soup in my hands, life is serendipitous.
- 3 skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsps celery, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 300 g fresh corn kernels
- 500 ml chicken broth/water
- 2 tsps minced hot serrano or jalapeño chilies
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsps fresh coriander, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add garlic, cumin and oregano and saute for a minute more.
- Add broth, tomatoes, corn and chilies, season with salt and bring to boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until corn is tender, for 5 minutes.
- Drop in the chicken and simmer until cooked through, about 3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the black pepper, coriander and lemon juice.