My father’s mother was so Pennsylvania Dutch she spoke it. My mother’s mother, so Northeastern WASP she spoke that!
My father loved Pennsylvania Dutch food so my passive-aggressive mother never fixed it. (Her friend Doris G. made this soup.) She loved struggling with cranberries to see if she couldn’t get her smooth sauce to gel just like her Great-aunt Helen’s. When she couldn’t (and I can’t figure out what was so tough about it), she turned it into cranberry juice for a palate cleanser, I guess, at the wooden picnic table and benches where we ate most of our meals when I was young and miserable.
So my lunch today is a salute to that backstory. Even if we never talked at the table, except for my father criticizing us or the food or the time (2 minutes past 5 p.m. for supper was a no-no), I enjoyed the food and I’ve found no-fail recipes for both chicken corn soup (very Pa. Deutsch or Dutch) and a lovely, fragrant cranberry bread (very WASPish) with little sugar and no vanilla but lots of orange.
The Central Market Cookbook (1989) from the same in Lancaster, Pa., was a gift from Ruthie Z., one of my high school heartfriends, and also the source of the soup recipe.
Homemade chicken corn soup
4- to 5-pound chicken, cut up
6 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
1 14-1/2-ounce can yellow corn kernels, rinsed and drained
1 14-1/2-ounce can white corn kernels, same
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
A handful of minced fresh parsley
6 ounces noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
Saffron to taste (up to 1/4 teaspoon)
1 cup boiling water
Cook chicken in water to cover (or use leftover cut-up chicken). Remove from broth and cool. Skim fat from broth. Chop chicken.
Place chicken, broth and water in 6-quart kettle. In separate saucer pour boiling water over saffron to intensify golden color and flavor.
Add corn, eggs and parsley to chicken in kettle. Break noodles and add, along with salt, pepper and saffron water. Stir and simmer until hot. Serves 12 to 16.