Lancaster Chicken Corn Soup

Close-up of chicken corn soup in bowl and bread

J Shepherd / GettyImages

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Saffron gives color and flavor to this homemade chicken soup filled with noodles or homemade rivels and corn. You can use fresh or frozen corn.

This soup freezes well and makes for a hearty and easy weekday meal a few days after you make it. Freeze it before adding the noodles, barley, or rivels; prepare and add those when you reheat the soup. 

This recipe is taken from "The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup" by Mimi Sheraton.


  • For the Soup:
  • 4- to 5-pound chicken (cut into 8 pieces)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 quarts water (or as needed)
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 to 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • Optional: 8 to 10 threads saffron or 1/4 teaspoon saffron (crushed)
  • 10 ears corn or 4 cups corn (frozen)
  • 3 stalks celery (diced with leaves)
  • 6 ounces wide egg noodles, packaged egg barley or rivels (see below)
  • Optional: salt (to taste)
  • Optional: white pepper (freshly ground, to taste)
  • 2/3 cup parsley (finely chopped, fresh)
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs (chopped)
  • For the Rivels:
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper (ground)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup flour (all-purpose, as needed)

Steps to Make It

Make the Soup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place chicken in a soup pot with enough water to cover.

  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and skim foam as it rises to the surface.

  4. When the foam has subsided, add the onion, peppercorns, salt, and saffron. 

  5. Simmer gently but steadily, partly covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.

  6. Remove the chicken and trim and discard bones, skin, and onion.

  7. Let the soup cool, then skim the fat from the surface.

  8. Tear the meat into spoonable pieces and return them to the soup.

  9. Cut kernels from 4 ears of corn, then grate kernels from the remaining 6 ears, catching all milk and pulp on foil or waxed paper. If you're using frozen kernels, puree half in a food processor or blender, adding a little soup if the liquid is needed.

  10. Add whole kernels and grated or pureed corn to the soup, along with celery and noodles, egg barley, or rivels.

  11. Simmer gently until corn and noodles or rivels are cooked. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

  12. Stir in parsley and serve, garnishing each portion with chopped hard-cooked eggs.

Make the Rivels

  1. Stir salt and pepper into the beaten egg, add 2/3 cup flour and beat.

  2. Keep adding and beating in flour until the mixture is crumbly but a bit sticky.

  3. Rub the mixture between your hands or pinch off pea-sized pieces and drop them into simmering soup.

  4. Cover loosely and let cook for about 15 minutes, or until rivels solidify.

  5. To make the rivels ahead of time, cook them in lightly salted boiling water or some extra soup stock and then drain and reserve them; reheat in the soup just before it is served.

  6. Enjoy.