If there’s one thing Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine excels at, it’s comfort foods. You know, creamy mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, apple dumplings, apple butter and, of course, chicken corn soup with rivels.

Rivels, as most local folks know, are wee egg dumplings you make by dropping small bits of batter into boiling liquid until they rise to the surface. And they’re a perfect accent to a hearty chicken corn soup.

If you’re looking for a good recipe to make your own at home, Bell & Evans – the oldest branded chicken company in America, based right here in Fredericksburg – went to a prime local source: Sophie Light, former head cook at Esther’s Diner, Fredericksburg, and owner of Farmer’s Wife Diner, Ono. This winter, Bell & Evans persuaded Light to share her instructions for making chicken corn soup on their recipe blog.

Read More: A weekend visit to Esther’s (Lebanon Valley Food Critics)

Comments on the blog were enthusiastic, to say the least.

“True & Authentic PA Dutch!” a reader named Travis posted. “Mmmm, kumm esse!!!” added Ron. Diane called it “AMAZING! The recipe is spot on. As a gluten-free family, appreciate the rivels recipe. We enjoy this soup throughout cooler weather. It makes me wanna talk dutch!”

Reader JulieG said there “are so many recipes that aren’t truly home made. This recipe walks you through how to make the rivels. I’ve never made them before and these directions made it super easy!”

Similar comments followed Bell & Evans post on Facebook in mid-January.

“Her chicken corn rivel soup is the best and my favorite!” wrote Melanie Younker. “She makes the best soup!!!!” Paula Reynolds enthused. While Sheila Inglis simply commented: “Yummy.”

Bell & Evans shared Light’s concoction in a feature titled “12 Chicken Soups to Warm The Soul” that also included Chicken & Leek Stew with Herbed Dumplings, Chicken Enchilada Soup, Chicken Pozole Verde, and a Southwest White Chicken Chili.

Light, according to the company’s cooking blog, sat down with them in November to discuss her soup recipe, along with her family interest in cooking; it’s a tale of hardship, involving a wicked bout of rheumatic fever when she was 11 that kept her out of school for nearly a year and encouraged her, through sheer boredom, to learn to cook on her mother’s wood stove.

“Her mother had only 2 cookbooks, but Sophie said, ‘We just put things together back then. We didn’t measure anything,'” the blog explains. “For a whole year, she cooked for her mother and 7 siblings.”

Much later, she was working one evening at Esther’s Family Restaurant when she “filled a stew pot with chicken legs and thighs” and developed her signature soup recipe.

“People were lined up outside, waiting for our home cooking,” Light recalled.

So, what’s the recipe? Well, you can read the complete preparation instructions on the Bell & Evans blog, but here are your ingredients: 6 Bell & Evans whole chicken legs, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chicken base, 4 cups frozen corn, 1 tsp celery salt, 1 tsp onion salt, 1 tbsp parsley flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. For the rivels, you just need 3 large eggs and 2 cups of flour or, if you’re making a gluten-free option, 2 cups of King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, and 2 tbsp of cold water.

Ready to make it? Check out the Bell & Evans blog for more!

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.


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