This vegan corn chowder is the way corn chowder should be made! No dairy, no cashews, no coconut milk. The broth is made from blended corn for a super creamy texture and super corn flavour!
- What’s the difference between corn soup and corn chowder?
- How do you thicken corn chowder?
- What is corn chowder made of?
- How to cut corn kernels off the cob
- How to make vegan corn chowder
- Substitutions and Variations
- Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- Topping Ideas
- What to serve with corn chowder
- Vegan Corn Chowder
What’s the difference between corn soup and corn chowder?
All chowders are soups, but not all soups are chowders!
The difference is the consistency and ingredients. Corn chowder is thick and creamy, and has chunks of vegetables, in particular potatoes.
Corn soup can be thin and light or thick and creamy. Oftentimes, thicker corn soup recipes are made by blending the corn and vegetables together, differentiating them from chowders which keep the veggies chunky.
Making chowder usually includes dairy to make it creamy, however, there are many ways to make dairy-free chowder.
We all know the tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder, but there is also the lesser-known Rhode Island chowder, neither of which call for any dairy.
When chowder was invented hundreds of years ago, it didn’t include any dairy but rather was thickened with ship biscuits.
Corn chowder is ideal for making without dairy because corn itself has a sort of “milk” inside the kernels and the cob.
This vegan corn chowder recipe takes advantage of the natural creaminess of fresh corn in order to make a beautifully thick and creamy chowder that’s ideal for vegans, plant-based dieters and people with a dairy allergy or intolerance.
How do you thicken corn chowder?
The majority of vegan corn chowder recipes call for either coconut milk or cashews to make the broth thick and creamy.
But not everyone likes coconut milk and some people are allergic to nuts.
It’s a shame that they overlook the natural creaminess of the corn itself!
Using corn to make the broth keeps the flavours pure and unadulterated by strong the flavour of coconut or the nuttiness of cashews.
If you’ve made chowder before, then this vegan corn chowder recipe is made a bit differently than you’re probably used to.
But it’s essentially broken down into two steps: making the broth and preparing the vegetables.
The chowder broth is first infused with the milk from the stripped cobs, then thickened by pureeing the kernels. Finally, it’s made silky smooth by running it through a strainer to remove the corn “pulp”.
This recipe is also gluten free since there’s not need to thicken the chowder with a roux made from flour.
This chowder is a corn-lover’s dream!
What is corn chowder made of?
The ingredient list for this corn chowder recipe is probably the shortest on the internet! It’s also very healthy and super economical since corn and vegetables are super cheap in the summertime.
- Corn: Corn on the cob, the fresher the better since fresh cobs have the most milk inside the kernels. Choose bright green ears that have the leaves tightly wrapped and feel slightly damp. Juicy corn will feel heavy for its size. Avoid ears whose leaves are starting to yellow and feel dry.
- Water: The broth for this chowder is simply corn cooked and pureed with plain water.
- Onion and garlic: The vegetable component of this chowder starts by frying the aromatics.
- Olive oil: Just a touch for frying the onion and garlic.
- Celery and carrot: I like to add these vegetables for texture and flavour.
- Potato: The waxy texture of Yukon gold potatoes are ideal for this recipe.
- Salt: To season to soup and bring all the flavours together.
How to cut corn kernels off the cob
Removing corn from the cob can be a messy endeavour as the kernels tend to jump and roll off the cutting board and onto the floor!
There are a few different “tricks” to making sure most of the corn ends up in a bowl rather than on the floor.
The most well-known is probably using a bundt pan, if you have one (I don’t). Just stand the cob up in the hole of the pan and slice down the cob.
In absence of a bundt pan, stand the cob up in a bowl and slice down it. You can also place a smaller bowl upside down in the bottom of the larger bowl so that you don’t hit your knife on the edge of the bowl.
Another way is to use a rimmed baking pan to stop the kernels from rolling onto the floor. Stand the cob up on the baking pan and slice down it.
How to make vegan corn chowder
This vegan corn chowder recipe involves two steps. First, making the creamy corn broth and separately making the vegetables before both are combined into a chowder.
Make the corn stock: The first step is removing the corn kernels from about 6 ears of corn.
There are several ways to remove the kernels; see the section above for some tips.
The cobs contain a lot of “milk” and this recipe takes advantage of that by simmering the cobs in water to extract the corn flavour.
While the cobs are simmering, you can prepare the vegetables.
Prepare the vegetables: Dice the vegetables and mince the garlic.
Fry the onion, celery and garlic to make the flavour base for the chowder.
Add the diced potato and carrot and pour in about a cup of water.
This isn’t enough water to cover the vegetables, but with the lid on the pot it will steam them until tender.
Stir them up from time to time to make sure that they’re cooking evenly.
After about 15 minutes, add 2 cups of corn kernels to the pot. Cook the vegetables for a further 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the freshness of your corn and how long it takes to become tender.
Make the creamy corn broth: After about 20 minutes of simmering the cobs you can remove them.
To that corn water, add 4 cups of corn kernels and simmer them until tender.
The fresher the corn, the more quickly it will cook. For garden-fresh corn, it may only need 3 to 5 minutes. For older supermarket corn, it may need 10 to 15 minutes.
When the corn is tender and bright yellow, it’s ready.
Transfer the corn and water to a blender and blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender, but a stand blender tends to blend more smoothly.
Then pour the contents of the blender into a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Use a spoon to help pass the liquid through the strainer and smush the pulp to get out as much liquid as possible.
You should be left with a big bowl of creamy corn broth and a bit of pulp.
Combine: Transfer the corn broth back to the pot and use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked vegetables into the same pot.
You don’t need to transfer the vegetable cooking water since you don’t want to dilute the creaminess of the soup broth.
Add salt to taste and gently heat the soup to your liking.
Substitutions and Variations
Many corn chowder recipes call for bacon or some other pork product. This can be made cruelty free by sprinkling imitation bacon bits on top of the finished chowder.
Another option is to pan fry some finely diced smoked tofu and stir that into your chowder.
A sprinkling of smoked paprika will also add that bit of smokiness.
My basic recipe doesn’t include any herbs but feel free to add your favourite fresh or dried herb to the corn broth. Thyme is a classic choice but oregano or tarragon will also work as well.
A lot of corn chowder recipes don’t call for as many vegetables as mine does. They’re pretty much just corn, potatoes and bacon. If you don’t want to add celery and carrot, feel free to leave them out.
Apparently some people like a bit of spice in their corn chowder! You can add a diced jalapeño, or other chili pepper, or a pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper.
Corn in is season depending on where you live. In warm climates of the Northern hemisphere, corn is in season from May to November. In cooler climates, it’s in season from July until October.
I tried this recipe with canned corn and the broth didn’t come out creamy. Canned corn is not as juicy and doesn’t have as much “milk” as fresh corn. I don’t recommend trying to substitute canned or frozen corn for this recipe.
Yes, since this corn chowder does not contain dairy, it is excellent for freezing. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Yes, this vegan corn chowder recipe is gluten free, dairy free and nut free.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Since this recipe is broken into two parts: the broth and the vegetables, you can easily prepare the broth ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to put together the chowder for serving.
This corn chowder keeps very well in the fridge and the freezer because it does not contain any dairy or coconut milk.
Store the chowder in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to five months.
Reheat the chowder in the microwave or in a pot over medium heat.
- Artificial bacon bits
- your favourite fresh chopped herb (I used parsley) or green onions
- a drizzle of vegan cream or sour cream
- saltine crackers
- roasted chickpeas
- jalapeño slices
- Roasted poblano pepper slices
What to serve with corn chowder
- Crusty bread, vegan garlic bread or vegan buttermilk biscuits
- A green salad
- Steamed or roasted vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus
- Grilled cheese or grilled vegetable sandwich
- Vegan jalapeño poppers
- Baked beans
- Vegan quiche
Vegan Corn Chowder
- 6 cups (about 840 grams) fresh corn, from 6 - 7 ears
- 7 cups (1650 ml) water, divided
- ½ medium onion
- 1 rib celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large carrot
- 1 large potato
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cobs, reserve the kernels. Place the cobs in a large pot and add 6 cups (1.42 L) of the water. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Dice the onion, celery, and carrot. Peel and cut the potato into cubes. Mince the garlic.
- In a second pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and celery. Fry until soft - about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and fry until fragrant - 30 seconds.
- Add the carrot, potato and remaining 1 cup (240 ml) of water. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer/steam, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes are nearly cooked through - about 15 minutes. Add more water if the pot gets dry.
- For the last 5 minutes, add 2 cups (280 g) of the corn kernels and continue cooking until the corn is tender.
- Back to the first pot. After 20 minutes of simmering the cobs, remove the cobs from the water and add the remaining 4 cups (560 g) of corn kernels. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes or until the corn is tender. (The cooking time will depend on how fresh your corn is. The fresher, the shorter the cooking time. Not-so-fresh supermarket corn may need up to 15 minutes).
- When the corn is cooked, transfer the corn and its cooking water to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and, with the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape, blend well until creamy.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the contents of the blender. Use a spoon to smush the corn pulp to get out as much liquid as possible. You should just have some fibrous pulp left in the strainer and a bowl full of creamy corn broth.
- Transfer the corn broth back to the pot and use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked vegetables into the pot (without the cooking water). Add salt. If the soup has cooled down, gently warm it over medium-low heat until hot.