Smoky Vegan Corn Chowder
on Sep 07, 2023
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This vegan corn chowder recipe is just the soup to transition you from summer to fall. Made with fresh corn, it is thickened with potatoes and coconut milk. Each spoonful is smoky and spicy thanks to the addition of roasted poblano peppers. The corn roasts in the oven deepening its buttery flavor.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This is a simple potato corn chowder recipe that’s vegan too. Since it is thickened with canned coconut milk rather than cashew cream, there are no extra prep steps. You can just open the can and pour in the milk when the recipe calls for it.
It is perfect for shoulder season. Late summer – early fall days can be hot or start to get chilly. And this is happening all while fresh sweet corn and tomatoes are still in season, but you start to see butternut squash at the grocery. This soup makes sense of all those contradictions.
This is a vegan soup that’s hearty enough to eat like a meal. Enjoy a bowl for lunch or dinner. You can eat it with crackers or bread to dip into the thick broth.
How Is This Corn Chowder Recipe Different?
Traditionally, corn chowder is thickened with a combination of butter and flour along with potatoes and milk or half-and-half. For this soup, I use light coconut milk instead. And I puree about 75% of the soup in a blender once it has finished simmering. The coconut milk plus the potatoes are enough to give the soup a nice consistency while being dairy-free.
Also, I slice the kernels off 4 ears of corn and roast them in the oven with a poblano pepper. Lately, it’s become my thing to roast corn on a sheet pan. The kernels end up caramelized, and it really brings out their corny and buttery flavor—minus actual butter. Roasting enhances the corn and peppers more than could ever happen when just sautéing them and simmering them in a pot of broth on the stove.
Can You Use Frozen Corn?
Yes. While slicing fresh corn off the cob is always best, it’s not always possible. One ear of corn is about 3/4 – 1 cup of kernels. This recipe calls for 4 ears of corn, so I would aim for around 3-1/2 cups. If you use frozen corn, make sure to thaw it and dry it off with a towel before you put it on the pan to roast.
This is what you need:
- Corn: Again, it’s best to use fresh corn, but canned corn or frozen corn (thaw it first) are fine.
- Poblano pepper: These peppers are smoky and spicy, which makes them perfect for soups.
- Potatoes: I like Yukon Gold potatoes because they do a great job thickening the soup.
- Onions: This corn chowder recipe calls for a chopped white onion.
- Garlic: Three minced garlic cloves sauté with the onions and potatoes.
- Coconut milk: A can of light coconut milk makes the soup silky once you puree it.
- Olive oil: You need olive oil for roasting the corn and poblano pepper and for sautéing the onions and garlic.
- Scallions: Garnish the soup with sliced scallions.
- Salt & pepper: For soup, always taste it as it cooks and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
How To Make This Vegan Poblano Corn Chowder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
1. Prep the corn. Slice the kernels off the corn cobs. Then toss the corn and the poblano pepper with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them across a sheet pan.
2. Roast the corn. Give it 25-30 minutes to turn golden and lightly brown.
3. Brush any corn off the poblano and put it on a sheet of foil on the rack next to the pan in the oven. Also roast the pepper for 25-30 minutes at the same time as the corn, flipping halfway through toasting.
4. To peel the roasted pepper, place it in a bowl and cover it. Wait 10 minutes before rubbing off the skin, deseeding it and chopping it.
5. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onions. They will take 3-4 minutes to begin to soften.followed by the potatoes and garlic in a pot on the stove.
6. Add the potatoes and sauté for another few minutes. Then stir in the minced garlic.
7. Add the corn, peppers, coconut milk and veggie broth to the pot and simmer. After for 10-12 minutes the potatoes will become tender. (Make sure to save 1/3 cup of roasted corn to use for garnish.)
8. Puree about 3/4 of the soup in a blender and then pour it back in the pot. Divide the soup into bowls and top with sliced scallions and roasted corn.
This soup is so lovely with its creamy texture that I like having a hunk of crusty bread on the side to dunk into it. As mentioned, the soup is very filling and definitely works as a main dish. With the smokiness from the poblano peppers, it would also pair well with anything with Tex-Mex flavors like Chipotle Roasted Cauliflower Tacos or Sheet Pan Vegetarian Fajitas.
Leftovers, Storage and Freezing
Let the soup cool to room temperature before you put it in an airtight container to store it. You can keep it in the refrigerator up to 4 days, and in the freezer up to 1 month. Let it thaw until it softens. If it still has some solid chinks, that’s ok. Then warm it on the stove over low to medium heat.
Use a large soup pot. Since you are working with hot simmering liquids, you want to make sure your saucepan is not filled right to the top. Give yourself a few inches clear.
Transfer the soup to an actual blender rather than using an immersion blender in the pot. To blend the corn, so it is smooth, you need a high-powered blender or else you will miss out on that silky broth.
Taste the soup to see if you need to adjust the seasonings. You might want to add a little more salt and pepper to get it to the right level for your tastes.
You want a waxy potato that has a medium level of starch. It needs to be able to hold its shape as it simmers. My preference are Yukon Gold potatoes.
No. It is a rustic soup and the skins on Yukon Gold potatoes are thin enough that they only enhance the consistency of the chowder.
Chowder is traditionally broth that is thickened with flour and cream unlike soup. Since this corn chowder recipe is vegan, I bend the rules and use coconut milk and no flour, so it is also gluten-free.
More Fall Soups
Vegan Poblano Corn Chowder
- 4 ears corn
- 1 poblano pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper plus more for serving
- 1 white onion roughly chopped
- 2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes diced (about 1 cup total)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1-14 ounce can light coconut milk
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 scallion thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice the corn kernels off the cobs. On a sheet pan, toss the corn and the whole poblano pepper with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Spread the corn into an even layer across the pan.
- Brush any corn off the poblano pepper and put it on a piece of aluminum foil directly on the rack next to the pan with the corn. Roast the corn and the poblano pepper for 25-30 minutes. Flip the poblano pepper to the other side halfway through roasting. The corn should be bright yellow, golden and lightly browned. (Reserve 1/3 cup corn for garnish.) The pepper will be wrinkled and bubbled.
- Put the pepper in a bowl and cover it. Wait 10 minutes before rubbing off the skin using a towel. Remove the seeds and roughly chop the pepper.
- Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Sauté the onions until they start to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
- Then add the potatoes and continue sautéing for another 2-3 minutes. The potatoes should begin to break up. Add the garlic, cooking for 30 seconds more until fragrant.
- Add the corn, peppers, coconut milk, vegetable broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are tender and cooked through.
- Carefully transfer 75% of the soup to a blender to puree. Then pour it back into the pan to reheat as necessary.
- Divide the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved corn, sliced scallions and black pepper.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.