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Vegan Smoky Corn Chowder

An easy-to-make and flavorful smoky corn chowder, perfect for cool nights. This recipe is dairy-free, for a lighter, delicious, vegan version of a classic.

Bowl of corn chowder topped with basil on a cutting board with text overlay "vegan smoky corn chowder"

I know that I’m always talking about the weather, but when it comes to food, it dictates so much! A warm breeze with light humidity may call for a plate of tacos, cold and rainy days may make you reach for a comforting pot pie, and a hot, thunderstorm coming your way will have you leaving all appliances off. Well, yesterday there was a freak day in which the weather decide to stay under 80ºF and remain cloudy for most of the day -chilly I know ;)- so I wanted to take full advantage of the break in intense heat and humidity. It was time for soup!

multiple bowls holding ingredient for smoky corn chowder

Of course, it still is summer so I couldn’t forget to use some seasonal ingredients. In this case, I chose corn; as a starchy, slightly sweet vegetable it is pretty versatile. One dish that I love, that I very rarely eat- oddly enough- that utilizes the golden kernels well is corn chowder. A creamy, usually insanely delicious, soup that isn’t all that healthy most of the time. Well, with my recipe, I’ve added a good amount of other veggies, used far less creamer/milk, and added a smoky flair to it. Once the smoky corn chowder was simmering on my stove, near completion, my kitchen filled with amazing aromas. For a moment I stepped outside to check up on the dogs, but when I came back in, the scents enveloped me and hugged my nostrils gently. Yes, it smells that good.

Image collage of sautéing corn and adding in non-dairy milk

Not only does my version of smoky corn chowder taste great, it is really easy to make and doesn’t take long at all! Soup recipes- to me at least- can sometimes be intimidating because of the length of time they take to prepare, not so with this one. I think I’ll be making this soup again once the weather truly cools down, and who knows, maybe I’ll even share it. 😀

Image collage of pureeing corn in pot and adding greens

Substitutions + Tips

  • Oil – for an oil-free option, sauté aliums in water or vegetable broth.
  • Shallots – I love shallots but know they’re not always easy to find, you can substitute them with 1/2 cup finely diced red onion, if need be.
  • Corn – fresh or frozen work here; what I like to do is use half frozen roasted corn kernels in this recipe for extra smoky flavor!
  • Non-dairy milk – I use unsweetened soy milk in most recipes, but if you want an even richer chowder, you can use unsweetened/unflavored vegan creamer or half & half.
  • Spinach – as you can see in the photos, I didn’t use spinach as called for in the Vegan Bowl Attack! recipe and instead used chopped Swiss chard. You could also use baby arugula or chopped kale here, if that’s what you have on-hand.
Close up of Bowl of corn chowder topped with basil on a cutting board

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Smoky Corn Chowder

Bowls of corn chowder topped with basil on a cutting board

An easy-to-make and flavorful smoky corn chowder, perfect for cool nights. Recipe from Vegan Bowl Attack! copyright 2016, Jackie Sobon. Dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sunflower or other high temp oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (615 g) corn kernels, either fresh, or frozen and thawed
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tamari
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (235 ml) unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 2 cups (60 g) packed baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons (3 g) chiffonade-cut fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: serve in 4 bread bowls

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the sunflower oil. Add the shallots and garlic to the pot and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the corn kernels, nutritional yeast, tamari, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and onion powder to the pot.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and non-dairy milk to the corn mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and carefully use an immersion blender to puree about half of the corn kernels (so it remains slightly chunky).
  3. Cover the pot, bring the soup to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fold the spinach and basil into the soup and cook for another 5 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste and divide it among 4 bowls. Garnish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and basil, serve while hot.

Notes

  • If you do not have an immersion blender, you can transfer half of the soup to a blender in small batches and carefully puree it with a towel over the top of the pitcher instead of the lid. Otherwise you run the risk of it exploding everywhere.
  • Oil - for an oil-free option, sauté aliums in water or vegetable broth.
    Shallots - I love shallots but know they're not always easy to find, you can substitute them with 1/2 cup finely diced red onion, if need be.
  • Corn - fresh or frozen work here; what I like to do is use half frozen roasted corn kernels in this recipe for extra smoky flavor!
  • Non-dairy milk - I use unsweetened soy milk in most recipes, but if you want an even richer chowder, you can use unsweetened/unflavored vegan creamer or half & half.
  • Spinach - as you can see in the photos, I didn't use spinach as called for in the Vegan Bowl Attack! recipe and instead used chopped Swiss chard. You could also use baby arugula or chopped kale here, if that's what you have on-hand.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 243Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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Bowls of corn chowder topped with basil on a cutting board

Serve this soup with a hearty toast, a large salad, or both! Just to keep things balanced of course. What’s your favorite recipe that uses corn?

Spoon scooping chunky corn chowder out of a bowl

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