Here's a creamy corn chowder recipe great for the end of summer or in winter using frozen corn. I like to make it at the end of summer when fresh corn is available. Golden kernels and pale, soft green husks, ready to be enjoyed in many ways. Besides corn on the cob, corn chowder is an as easy way to enjoy corn, and this recipe is vegan and dairy-free.
Real chowder by definition includes dairy, bacon and potatoes. To make this corn chowder recipe dairy-free I've used canned coconut milk, so it's still rich and creamy. If you enjoy dairy, you can substitute dairy half and half. The gold potatoes and crisp bacon as a garnish goes with tradition, but if you want to make this vegan, skip the bacon.
Serving tip: serve crisp bacon crumbles on the side so people can garnish or not based upon their dietary preferences.
Corn Confusion: Grain or Vegetable?
You might wonder, is corn a vegetable, grain or fruit? Depending on how it's eaten it has multiple identities. Read more about it here. Eaten like this, corn is considered a starchy vegetable or whole grain.
Corn Off the Cob
All debates aside, fresh, sweet corn makes a wonderful chowder that is a treat for the end of summer. In winter, use frozen, thawed, organic corn. You can preserve summer's bounty by buying extra corn, slicing it off the cob and freezing it while prices are good. Another option is using grilled corn for the corn chowder.
Strip the husks and silk from fresh corn on the cob. Cut the cobs in half across the center. Stand co halves on the flat end, and with a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the cob. Five cobs should yield about 4 - 4 ½ cups of kernels.
I recommend buying non-GMO or organic corn only. Much of the corn grown this country is GMO. You do what is best for you. For a terrific site with more information on GMO foods, check out the Non-GMO Project organization site.
How to Make Chowder
When you have the kernels ready you can start the chowder. Sauté the onion, celery, leek and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the herbs, thyme and fennel, and corn. Add broth, coconut milk and simmer a bit and you are ready for a terrific bowl of corn chowder. It gets thick when made ahead, but is easy to thin with a little extra broth.
Spice Tip - Fennel Pollen
Fennel pollen is a very potent form of dried fennel. If you love he flavor of fennel (ayou will love fennel pollen. Some call it the spice of the angels. Tiny yellow flowers are collected then screened to get just the pollen.
Fennel pollen is native to the Mediterranean and grown here in California. If you can't find it (and it can be pricey), use ground fennel seed. Use it anywhere you would use fennel, in soups, stews, with chicken and pork, or with vegetables.
Make It Ahead
You can make this soup on a Sunday afternoon in about an hour or less. It will hold for 4 days in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy it during the busy week ahead. Serve with a tossed green salad for a hearty, healthy, fast dinner. It gets very thick after sitting in the fridge so you might need extra broth to thin it down.
Corn Chowder Soup Recipe (vegan or dairy-free option)
- 5 ears corn on the cob or 4 ½ frozen cups kernels
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ribs celery ¾ cup, chopped small
- 2 carrots ¾ cup, chopped small
- 1 small leek ¾ cup, chopped thin
- 2 garlic cloves chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- ½ teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel optional but delicious
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 gold potato chopped into ½" pieces 8 ounces
- 3 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 1 15 ounce can coconut milk
- 8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled about ½ pound
- Husk corn cobs and scrub off the silk. Chop the cobs in half crosswise. Stand each cob on a flat end and with a sharp knife, slice off the kernels. Alternatively when corn is out of season, use frozen corn.
- Pour olive oil into a medium pot over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add celery, carrots and leek. Turn heat to medium low and cook the vegetables until soft, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add thyme, fennel, salt and pepper.
- Add potato, broth and corn kernels and cook stirring occasionally until the potatoes and corn are tender when you bite them. Keep the heat at a low simmer, just barley bubbling so that the potatoes don't disintegrate. When vegetables are tender, add the coconut milk and heat through.
- Optional garnish - while soup is finishing, fry bacon strips until crisp, drain and crumble to top the soup.