Vegan Corn Chowder is the ultimate healthy comfort food! This easy chowder recipe is loaded with veggies in a rich dairy-free broth for a simple dinner that’s enormously satisfying.
This post has been updated from the original which was published November 1, 2016.
Thick and creamy, uber comforting corn chowder, is the perfect soup in any season! Use fresh corn in the summer when it’s in season, frozen corn any other time of year, for a warm, nurturing, hearty vegan meal.
I absolutely love the flavor and texture of this sweet corn chowder. It’s perfect for a light meal that’s also nourishing and satisfying. Plus, everyone will love it.
Why you will love this recipe
- Quick and easy.
- Tastes like summer….ah, the nostalgia when it’s it’s cold outside!
- Budget friendly. Simple wholesome ingredients generally ARE less expensive than packaged and processed foods.
- It’s warm, nourishing and comforting.
- Delicious…with the just the right texture too.
- Use frozen corn…straight from the freezer.
- Everyone loves to “decorate” their bowl with colorful toppings.
- Creamy…and still dairy-free.
- Meal prep friendly, will stay good in the fridge all week. Just heat and serve when ready to eat.
- SUPER perfect to drop off to a friend who’s had a baby, has moved, or just needs some TLC.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Corn: When fresh corn is in season, I like to cut it off the cob and use that….I throw the cobs in too, for added flavor. Otherwise, frozen organic corn is the way to go….see below for some fun facts about corn! Corn is the centerpiece of this recipe, so if you don’t eat corn, this isn’t the recipe for you. Try this Chickpea Soup Recipe instead.
- Potatoes: I used a combo of red creamer and yukon gold potatoes in these photos. You could also use sweet potatoes….but be prepared for a super sweet chowder. I’ve used russet and idaho potatoes with good results too. There’s no need to peel the potatoes…the most nutrient dense part of the potatoes is the skin.
- Vegetable broth: It’s easy to make homemade veggie stock. If you buy already made stock, check the label carefully to be sure what’s in it. Look for a brand that doesn’t add highly processed vegetable oils or too much sodium.
- Carrots: Diced Carrots are good for color, crunch and nutrition. A good substitute would be diced bell peppers, of any color. Add them in with the corn.
- Celery: Love the depth of flavor as celery cooks with the onions. Leeks or fennel would be good subs if you don’t have celery.
- Onions: Awesome flavor builders. Good subs are leeks, scallions, shallots or fennel.
- Garlic: Another flavor boost comes from garlic. If you don’t have fresh, use 1 teaspoon garlic powder. You could also use garlic infused olive oil when sauteeing the veggies to impart the garlic flavor. Garlic releases its nutritional benefits starting at 10 minutes after it’s been chopped…another reason to prep all your ingredients in advance.
- Spices: Thyme, cumin, S+P are all added for flavor. A few grinds of black pepper makes the active ingredient curcumin, found in turmeric, more available to us.
- Plant milk: Use my easy almond milk recipe to make your own…or look for a brand with no additives. The ingredient list should list almonds and water. You can substitute with oat milk, or soy milk.
- Toppings: If you’ve been hanging around here awhile, then you already know the toppings are my favorite part! Take advantage of the garnish opportunity to add color, texture, taste and nutrition. Thinly sliced jalapenos will add a great little spicy zing, thinly sliced mini peppers are great for color and crunch. I like to add chopped fresh herbs for color and nutrition. A little bowl of nutritional yeast will add a cheesy sort of flavor. You do you….and pass along your favorites for everyone to sprinkle in their own.
CORN 101: Organic & GMO
What’s the difference between Organic and GMO? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms….generally speaking, it’s a crop that has been re-engineered to make it genetically “superior” (ie: better yield, less weeds, resistant against diseases and pests, and more tolerant of adverse weather). It’s great for profits for a farmer, but not necessarily a better choice for humans ingesting GMO crops. GMO has to do with the DNA of a seed and its crops….but doesn’t mean anything about pesticides and whether or not a crop is grown in organic conditions.
For corn to be certified organic, it means it was grown without the use of GMOs or antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers or toxic chemicals. No thanks! I’ll definitely take my corn without a side of chemicals.
Bottom line: At least be sure your corn is non GMO. All organic corn is also non-GMO, but not all non-GMO corn is organic.
Is Fresh, Frozen or Canned Corn Better?
- Budget: Frozen corn will be the most consistent budget friendly option. That said, when fresh corn is in season, you can often find it on sale and it may be a better deal. Canned corn, may also be cheaper if you can find it on sale, but I don’t recommend it for this recipe.
- Taste: There’s nothing quite like fresh sweet corn in season….fresh summer corn will definitely win the taste test….though, once in awhile you can get a dud….an entire ear that just doesn’t have much flavor. If you’re going for consistency, frozen’s the way to go. You can find “fire roasted” and “sweet” corn frozen and the taste is terrific and more of a guarantee. Canned corn isn’t desirable in this recipe. It will be watery and mushy.
- Convenience: Although canned corn can be easy to store and use when needed, the taste isn’t great and therefore not worth the convenience (in my opinion). Frozen corn is super convenient to use in this recipe. You can even put it straight from the freezer into the pot.
Bottom line: Frozen, organic corn is the better choice for this recipe. Stock up if you find it on sale. You’ll want to use it for this Mexican Street Corn Recipe and vegan cornbread as well. If you’re a sucker for farm fresh summer corn (that would be me!), definitely buy fresh and enjoy the summer ritual.
How to make this vegan chowder:
Vegan Corn Chowder is easy to make. You’ll want to prep all ingredients ahead of time, since this goes really quickly.
Step 1: Use a bit of vegetable stock to “water saute” the onions. You could use olive oil, but I don’t think it makes a taste difference, so not worth it IMHO.
Step 2: Add in the carrots, potatoes, and celery. Stir and cook for a few minutes.
Step 3: Stir in the garlic and spices until everything is well coated.
Step 4: Add the corn and mix well to coat with the spices.
Step 5: Pour in the vegetable stock and stir well. Cook for 15 minutes. If you’re using fresh corn, cut it off the cob when prepping the other veggies, and throw the kernels and the cobs in with the veggie broth. Just before pureeing the soup, take out the cobs and throw them into your compost pile.
Step 6: Stir in the almond milk, continue to cook until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.
Step 7: Puree about half the chowder to create a thick and creamy base for this corn soup. An immersion blender, makes this super easy and less messy. But, you can also transfer half to a blender or food processor. Leave the rest chunky for varied texture.
The chowder will be thick and creamy, ready to serve. Sprinkle on some fresh herbs or jalapeno slices.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Have all ingredients chopped and ready to go before you begin.
- Use frozen corn, or fresh, cut from the cob. I do not recommend canned corn.
- No need to peel the potatoes, plus the skins add extra fiber and have the most nutrition.
- Be generous with the garnishes.
- This chowder is AMAZING as leftovers, maybe even better than the first go round.
- If chowder has thickened up too much, add a bit more broth, or plant milk and stir well for an even consistency.
- If you forgot to add in the black pepper to activate the turmeric, go ahead and add a few grinds when serving.
Garnishes for Chowder
Garnishes make this soup super fun! You can let everyone choose their own, or sprinkle an assortment onto each bowl as you serve it. Choose veggies that are colorful, add texture, taste or nutrition. I like a bit of heat in my chowder, so I always include thinly sliced jalapenos. For crunch and color, dice up some peppers. Thinly sliced scallions are also tasty and fresh herbs add color, nutrition and taste.
Vegan Corn Chowder FAQs
Often corn chowder is thickened with flour and butter, but I like to take a healthier approach and add extra corn and potatoes and puree some of the soup to create a thick and creamy broth that is dairy-free and gluten-free.
Yes. Frozen corn is perfect in chowder. Fresh corn works well too, but I don’t advise using canned corn.
More Corn Recipes
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Vegan Corn Chowder
- 1 medium sized onion diced (3/4 cup)
- 3 stalks celery diced (1 cup)
- 3 carrots diced (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 ½ lbs. red creamer or yukon gold potatoes diced (2 1/2 cups)
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- few grinds black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups frozen corn
- 4 cups veggie stock
- 2 cups almond milk
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 jalapeno thinly sliced
- ½ cup small diced bell peppers
- Prep all veggies and have ready by the stove.
- Heat a heavy soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. ADd 1-2 Tablespoons veggie broth to pot and saute onion until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in celery, carrots and potatoes and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Use another 1-2 Tablespoons broth, as needed, if pot becomes dry.
- Stir in garlic and spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add in corn and stock, stir and then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Stir in almond milk and continue to simmer until potatoes are tender. About 5 minutes, depending on how large you chopped the potatoes.
- Use an immersion blender to puree half the soup into a thick and creamy base. Leave some of the veggie chunks to have a varied texture chowder. Taste for seasoning, adding more S+P, as desired.