This recipe is in honor of Jessica B. Harris. Jessica is a cherished chronicler of African foodways throughout the diaspora. Her experiences have taken her all over the world and she's wined and dined with the best of them. Jessica, through her work, honors so many unsung Black figures whose names we don't know, who shaped Southern food and changed the course of American cooking. This comforting recipe is a small tribute to their ingenuity.
Swap option: If you didn't make my Sunday Roast Chicken, or already discarded the bones, you can use 1 pound of chicken necks instead.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat. Add the chicken necks and sear until a deep brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Cover with enough water to come 2 to 3 inches above the chicken (about 12 cups). Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer on low for at least 1½ hours, until the chicken necks are breaking down and softened at the joints. While simmering, add more water, about 6 cups or as necessary, to keep the chicken completely submerged.2.
Add the onions, green tops of the leeks, carrots, thyme, bay leaves, chile, ginger and garlic. Simmer for another 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the herbs have given off their oils.3.
Strain out all the solids and return the broth to the pan. Add the pepper soup spice and corn pieces, and season with salt. Simmer until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sliced leeks and oyster mushrooms and simmer until just tender, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning if necessary.4.
Spoon the soup into bowls to serve. Top with cilantro, sliced scallions and a squeeze of lime.