Chicken Corn Soup

Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook by Melissa Thompson

Chicken Corn Soup excerpted from Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook by Melissa Thompson. Photography by Patricia Niven.

Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook by Melissa Thompson

Acclaimed food writer and chef Melissa Thompson takes us on a journey to this Caribbean jewel through 80 recipes and more than 500 years of history and influences. The recipes include classic Jamaican favourites, such as Jerk Pork, Braised Oxtail, Ackee & Saltfish, and Peanut Punch, as well as original dishes created with Jamaica’s abundant natural larder and twists on classics.

This beautiful cookbook features in-depth research into the evolution of Jamaica’s food. It charts the contribution of indigenous Jamaicans, the Taino. It follows the impact of colonization, and how the periods under Spanish and British rule left an indelible mark on the nation’s gastronomy, without shying away from their brutality: Eyewitness accounts describe the barbarity of the colonial powers. And it recounts how enslaved men and women from West and Central Africa brought inspiration from home and familiar cooking techniques to create legacy dishes that are still celebrated today. The contribution of Indian and Chinese indentured workers is also examined. These stories are woven into the recipes, so the reader is invested in the dishes they cook.

Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook is available at, and  

Chicken Corn Soup

Serves 4

I’m not a huge soup lover-usually I find them too light and lacking in substance to fill me up unless we’re talking Jamaican soups. Jamaican soups are something else. The complete contents of a Jamaican soup pot are often a mystery; it only reveals its delights the deeper you get. Hard food? Spinners? Chicken feet? This is my chicken soup, how I like it. It’s not bolstered with any packaged soup mix (such as Grace soup mix), though you can add that if you like towards the end of cooking time and adjust the seasoning accordingly (you’ll need less salt).

chicken on the bone (any combination: ½ chicken on the bone (any combination: 2 whole legs, or 2 breasts and wings, or 1 leg and 1 breast and wing)

8½ cups (2 litres) light chicken stock (for homemade, see page 138)

2 carrots, halved lengthways, then sliced

1 onion, chopped

7 oz (200 g) pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cubed

7 oz (200 g) yam, peeled and chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 cup (150 g) corn kernels, or 2 ears of corn each cut into 3–4 rings

1 tsp dried mixed herbs (Badia is a great brand)

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped

1 tsp freshly ground white pepper, or freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

sea salt

Spinners, to serve

Make sure the chicken is portioned up into drumsticks and thighs, or breasts cut into 3 on the bone (or do it yourself, see page 145). Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the chicken, and leave for 1 minute. Remove the chicken and rinse it to remove any scum, then discard the cooking water. Wipe the pot clean.

Bring the stock to a boil in the cleaned pot. Add the chicken and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the carrots, onion, pumpkin, yam, celery, corn, dried herbs, garlic, scallions, and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the chicken and leave to cool. Leave the soup simmering.

Put the flour in a small bowl and mix in a ladleful of soup. Once mixed, return it to the soup pot and stir until thickened.

Add the Spinners to cook as on page 228.

Shred the cooled chicken pieces and return the meat to the soup, then serve.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Interlink Books.

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