Cantonese Chicken and Corn Soup
Another chinese classic, cantonese chicken and corn soup features on the menu of almost all chinese restaurants in the western world. I loved chicken and corn soup growing up and now my family love it too and can’t get enough. It’s also become my go to ‘make some food in a flash’ chicken and corn soup recipe. It’s essentially the recipe my mum taught me with a few tweaks, additions and omissions (so not really my mum’s recipe at all)!
Almost always, my freezer and pantry have the base ingredients required to make this soup so it’s become emergency dinner food on more than one occasion. Like all good soups it freezes well and it’s just as good (if not better) the following day and of course, super delicious on the day it’s made.
The full recipe is below but here is a link to my process video if you want to watch how I make my cantonese chicken and corn soup.
I like to use only chicken thighs but you can substitute chicken legs or chicken drumsticks. The recipe calls for 1kg of chicken thighs with bones and skins on, so substitute with 1kg of legs or 1kg of drumsticks, both with bones and skin on. I prefer to use thighs because I find it easier to debone and remove the skin from thigh pieces; chicken drumsticks I find particularly cumbersome to do this with because of the need to remove the pesky tendon bits as well – but each to their own, drumsticks tend to be cheaper and if you don’t mind the extra work then go for it.
If deboning chicken is not really your thing, then substituting with 500g chicken meat or mince and a chicken carcass works too. Chicken thighs are my preference due to cost as well as the taste from using brown chicken meat in addition to the texture you get by hand cutting the meat into little pieces.
A whole chicken can be used too if you are planning a massive batch of soup. For a 1.2kg chicken, the quantity is like a double batch of soup, so double the recipe quantities for the remaining ingredients.
Best not to use only chicken breast, the soup won’t be the same, if you really have to use chicken breast maybe try mixing in some thigh or leg meat too; you need the delicious brown meat for flavour.
HOW TO DO DROP EGG
Like many Cantonese and other asian soup dishes, the final step before serving is to add what’s called a drop egg. How I like to do drop eggs is as follows:
Beat an egg or two really well into a jug
Make sure the soup is boiling rapidly
Pour a thin stream of egg into the soup whilst quickly cutting the stream of egg with a pair of chopsticks just before the stream of egg hits the soup
Take care in making sure the egg stream is thin; sometimes lifting the jug and pouring from a greater height can help. A thin stream is important, if it’s too thick you could end up with a floating omelette on top of your soup rather than the streaks of egg you are aiming for.
Brandy is best but white wine or a whites spirit are ok too. In the past I have used sauvignon blanc, riesling, whiskey, vodka and masala with great tasting results; just make sure its of reasonable quality; there is often a good reason why the cheap alcohol is cheap…best not to risk the flavour of your chicken and corn soup to find out.
Not really a substitute, this one is more of a tip or item to note. I always use the cheapest creamed corn you can find in the supermarket. It has less whole corn kernel bits and makes for a more creamy soup. Of course if you like chunky corn bits, by all means pay the extra $$ per can for the fancy brand named creamed corn and its “at least 80%” corn content. However, I’ll stick to my $1/can (sometimes $0.89/can if its on special!) can with 47% corn content.
HOW TO FREEZE INGREDIENTS FOR EMERGENCY MEALS
I mentioned at the start of this post that I almost always have the ingredients to make this soup in my freezer and pantry so it’s often something I make when my day has got away from me or I simply need a quick meal.
First of all I remove the meat off the chicken thighs, discarding the skin and keeping the bones. I freeze the bones with the required ginger, garlic and bay leaf in a freezer proof container.
I cut up the meat as required, put it in another freezer proof container with all the marinade ingredients. Give it a good mix around then freeze.
When it comes to making the soup, just heat a pot of water, add the bones straight from the freezer with a good amount of salt and pepper. Boil/simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bones and other stock bits. Making sure the stock is boiling rapidly, add the marinated chicken from frozen – use a fork or chopsticks to break up the meat as it thaws and cooks. When boiling again, add the creamed corn. Bring to the boil again, then add the drop egg. Add extra salt and pepper to taste. Soup done, serve with toast.
You could boil up the bones and stock ingredients then strain, cool and freeze. However, I prefer to just freeze the stock ingredients because it’s quicker to prepare and the cooked bones also give my little people something to gnaw on to keep them occupied as I’m finishing off the rest of the soup.
REHEATS AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS
Almost always I serve this with what we call toast soldiers. This is just buttered toast cut into strips!
When I reheat the leftovers the next day, I place a bowl in the microwave with a paper towel over the top and heat for about 4 minutes on high (of course this will vary depending on the wattage of your microwave, size of bowl, starting temperature etc). The thing to note, is straight after you remove the soup from the microwave, grab a spoon and scrap the bowl following the edge of the soup. Otherwise, a soup ring forms and when you get to the bottom of your bowl of soup you realise that the soup ring has caked up and set onto the bowl and you’ll be disappointed that you’ve just lost a small but significant portion of soup. To add salt to the wound, it also requires extra scrubbing to clean your soup ring contaminated abomination of a bowl.
Now for the full recipe…
Cantonese Chicken and Corn Soup
1kg chicken thighs (with bones and skin)
2 cans creamed corn
1 egg, beaten
2tbsp light soy sauce
4 drops of sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1cm ginger, grated
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, bruised
2 slices ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
Remove meat from chicken thighs. Discard the skin (and big bits of fat), retain the bones.
Chop and dice the meat up into small pieces. Add the marinade ingredients. Mix and set aside – best to leave marinating overnight.
Put bones in a large pot with stock ingredients and cover with plenty of water about 5-6 cups. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Skim off and discard any scum on the the top. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Strain the stock and return the liquid to the pot. (Discard the bits).
Bring to a rapid boil then add the marinated chicken.
Bring back to a rapid boil whilst giving an occasional stir. Add the creamed corn.
Bring back to a rapid boil whilst giving an occasional stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring back to a rapid boil and add drop egg (check out explanation above for what is meant by drop egg and how to do it)
Serve with buttered toast.