by Steve Liddick
Every year, when the corn was at the eating stage, church women in my Perry County Pennsylvania home area would make chicken corn soup as a fundraiser. I don’t know if they still do. If so, a bowl of it probably wouldn’t cost a quarter anymore.
Whatever the price, it’s worth it because it was heaven in a paper bowl with a plastic spoon.
My personal recipe, which is a long-standing Perry County tradition, is very simple:
First you steal a chicken
Defeatherize and clean it, boil it down, debone it, toss the skin and bones. Cut the meat into smaller pieces. Save the water you boiled the chicken in.
Then you walk out to a farmer’s field and pick some corn. My dad always said to “Leave the money on the fence.” I would say, “What if there’s no fence,” and he’d say, “Now you have the idea, son.”
Okay, moving on:
You cut a lot of corn from the cob and add it to the chicken and broth.
Now here’s the good part:
In a bowl, you mix an egg and a pinch of water or melted butter in some flour and mix it around until you have a dry dough with tiny eggy-floury chunklets and you drop those—a few at a time—into the boiling soup. Those are called rivels (RIH-vuhls) and they add to the magic.
After it has boiled awhile, salt and pepper it to taste.
There you have it.
But I have to admit, the homemade version is nowhere near as good as those church ladies made.
Maybe it’s because everything tastes better when someone else does the cooking.