1 large chicken breast or 2 or 3 thighs, bone-in, skin removed (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
½ medium onion, diced
2 medium yellow summer squash, zucchini, or a combination of the two, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1-inch pieces (2 to 3 cups total)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
2 to 3 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped and stems discarded, or 1 heaping tablespoon dried
2 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 dashes liquid smoke (optional)
Grill the chicken, if you’re using it. I like to use a rub of bold spices and get a good char on the meat. It all adds great flavor! Set aside to cool.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a high-sided pan with a lid, or a 2-quart pot. Add the garlic and onion, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the squash, oregano and red pepper flakes, and sauté for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the chicken broth and cover. Simmer until the squash is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and cool for about 30 minutes.
While waiting for the squash to cool, steam the corn in 2″ of water in a covered pot for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with tongs and immediately run the ears under cold water.
When the cobs are cool enough to handle, remove kernels by holding the corn upright on a large cutting board and, with the other hand, work a knife from the tip to the base of the ear. Set the kernels aside.
Working in small batches, carefully ladle the cooled soup mixture into a blender and puree. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat until all the squash has been pureed.
Return the puree to the original pot and add the corn kernels. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can thin it with additional chicken broth or milk.
Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a few dashes of liquid smoke, if desired.
Shred the cooled chicken, add to the soup, and mix thoroughly. (I prefer hand-pulled chicken over cut chicken—the texture adds great body and the open fibers of the meat absorb the wonderful flavor.)
Heat the soup until just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.