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Smoky Chicken and Corn Soup

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Smoky Chicken and Corn Soup

Smoky Chicken and Corn Soup is easy to make and perfect comfort food.

Finally: Soup weather is here! Smoky Chicken and Corn Soup is our family favorite, one that gets requested more than any other soup (and more than most recipes, period). 

This is a super easy soup to make and can be thrown together for a weeknight dinner. There are three keys to keeping it simple. First, buy the butternut squash already peeled and chopped. It’s a total game-changer to be able to dump the box of already-cut-up squash into the pot rather than wrangling what is arguably one of the toughest veggies to cut up, thanks to skin that’s as hard as a fire log. Second, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. The grocery store has done the work, so why double up? Finally, to get a thick, creamy consistency without a long cook time or a ton of cream, you will purée half the soup, either using a standard blender or a hand-held, directly in the pot. The result is a hearty soup that is actually healthy and full of veggies.

Even simpler: Make the soup ahead of time, freeze it, and heat it up when you don’t have time to make dinner.

Last month’s “Back Porch” offered some ideas on how to make it feel like fall, even in Houston. Now that things are cooling off, you can still use those tips…just add some Smoky Chicken and Corn Soup, and fall might even get real.

Smoky Chicken and Corn Soup

8 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped (I cut the slices up with kitchen shears, straight into the pot)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions 
1 cup chopped red bell pepper 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups; buying squash pre-cut is more expensive but exponentially easier)
6 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 16-ounce packages frozen corn
1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded, skin and bones discarded
1 ¼ cups chopped green onions, divided
1 cup chopped cilantro, divided

Cook the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.

In the same pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter with the bacon fat over medium heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the thyme, salt, pepper, butternut squash, and stock. Increase the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, until the squash softens, about 20 minutes. Add the corn, chicken, reserved bacon, 1 cup green onions, and ½ cup cilantro. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes more.

Transfer half of the soup to a blender. Secure the lid on the blender, and remove the center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over the opening, and purée 30 seconds. Return the pureed soup to the pot, and stir. (Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to purée half of the soup directly in the pot.)

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the remaining green onion and cilantro. You can freeze any leftover and heat it up for another day.

Editor's note: Find more soup recipes in this 2019 story "Soup Days," by Andria Frankfort.

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