#CoronaCooking: Soup Two Ways

My kid and I went to the store today—gloves on, keeping our distance—to buy a short list of maybe seven items. The mark of my extreme, though perhaps invisible, anxiety is that I ended up buying more groceries than I've ever bought at one time in my life. Some were things that I kind of forgot about the first time—toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary supplies, more lotion for my terribly painful, chapped hands thanks to all the hand washing. Others were the things that, the first time around, I told myself that I wouldn't or shouldn't really need—CHOCOLATE, snack things, etc.

We walked past shelves, curious as to what was gone. No flour to be had. No vegetable oil (lots of olive oil though.) Almost no canned vegetables—except for creamed corn. Lots of creamed corn. Perhaps because it was the only thing on the shelf, it caught my daughter's attention. "Make sweet corn chicken soup!" she begged—a total comfort food around here. So we got the creamed corn.

I decided that I would offer two different recipes: one is the way that I normally make it, when I have time and supplies on hand. (To be honest, I have all the supplies on hand even now, but you all perhaps do not.) The second is the way that I made it today, with pantry staples.

On second thought, I'll give you the shelter-in-place version first. No use dreaming of what we can't have, when what we can have is perfectly delicious.

Chinese Sweet Corn Soup, Corona Version
Serves 4

This soup is easily adjusted to your taste. Tweak the amount of soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper to get it exactly how you like it. It is brilliant with a little chili crisp or sriracha swirled in. You can add chicken for a heartier soup, but I left it out today. In all, it takes less than 20 minutes to get onto the table.

1 quart water
2 TB chicken bouillon powder
2 tsp soy sauce, or to taste
1 TB toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 can creamed corn (if you don't have creamed corn, take a can of regular corn and whirl it up in a blender until minced)
1 can corn kernels, drained
2 heaping TB cornstarch, mixed with 1/3 c cold water
3 eggs, beaten
1 scallion, chopped
2 TB cilantro, chopped

OPTIONAL: 3 oz chicken (breast or thigh), minced, mixed with 1 tsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, and a pinch of white pepper OR use 3 oz of cooked chicken, shredded (no need to add any of the marinade ingredients

1. If using (raw) chicken, mix with marinade ingredients and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, mix water, chicken bouillon powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and the two types of corn and bring to a gentle boil.

3. If using uncooked chicken, add it to the soup, breaking it up as it goes in. Let cook for a few minutes at a steady simmer.

4. Add half the cornstarch slurry to the pot, bring back to a boil. Depending on how thick you like it (I like it a bit thicker—more body), add the rest of the slurry and bring to a boil. Stir a few times and lower heat to a steady simmer.

5. Add beaten eggs by pouring into the pot in a thin stream and stirring with a ladle. Stirring creates strands of eggs—the more you stir as the egg goes in, the finer the strands.

6. Taste the soup. Add more sesame oil, soy sauce (no more than an additional teaspoon!), pepper if desired. If the soup is still not salty enough for you, add kosher salt (too much soy sauce will make it bitter).

7. Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallion and cilantro.

Chinese Sweet Corn Chicken Soup, Non-Corona Version
Serves 4

For the chicken stock:

Take 3 lbs of chicken backs and necks, a halved onion, a few garlic cloves, a small piece of ginger, 1 TB coriander seeds, 1 TB of sugar, and 1/4 cup fish sauce, and place in a stock pot with 2.5 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1.5 hrs. (If you do this with a pressure cooker, you only need to cook it for 35 minutes.)

Proceed with above recipe, substituting 1 quart of chicken broth for the water and bouillon powder.