Make this Southwestern corn chowder for a cozy dinner at home! This vegetarian corn chowder recipe is fresh, wholesome and delicious. It’s perfect for cool late summer or fall evenings when fresh corn is at its peak. Or, you can make it any time with frozen corn.
I wanted the corn flavor to shine and balanced its sweetness with some Southwestern spice. You’ll find bell pepper, poblano and chili powder in this atypical chowder. I promise you will not miss the bacon.
I purposefully avoided using the heavy cream that you’ll find in most chowder recipes. Heavy cream has a tendency to dull flavors and also makes me feel weighed down. Instead, I blended a bit of butter into the soup (one of my favorite soup tricks) and stirred in some crème fraîche or sour cream at the end. These dairy ingredients offer some creaminess, of course, plus some tanginess that you won’t get from plain cream.
You can easily make this soup dairy free or vegan, if desired. You’ll love the end results either way!
Corn Selection & Preparation Tips
Because great corn is key to making great corn chowder!
Buy fresh corn and use it promptly. Freshly harvested corn has the sweetest, most delicious flavor, and it loses that flavor as time goes on.
How to cut corn off the cob: I find it easiest to just lay the corn down on the cutting board. Slice off a strip of kernels lengthwise with a sharp knife, rotate so the flat side is against the cutting board, and repeat as necessary.
If you can’t find fresh corn or want to save a few minutes: Use frozen corn, which tastes much nicer than canned corn. Rinse off any frost on the kernels first, then add them to the pot as directed.
Watch How to Make Southwestern Corn Chowder
Corn Chowder Serving Suggestions
You could count a big bowl of chowder as a light meal. Or serve smaller portions on the side. This chowder goes well with green salads, sandwiches and quesadillas, and simple vegetable sides. Here are a few nice options:
- 10-Minute Quesadillas
- Arugula and Wild Rice Salad with Zippy Lemon Dressing
- Erin’s Peach and Avocado Green Salad
- Favorite Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas
- Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Perfect Roasted Green Beans
- Quick Collard Greens
More Fresh Corn Recipes to Enjoy
- The Best Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
- Fresh Corn Salsa
- Garden-Fresh Corn Salad
More Cozy Fall Soups & Stews
- Best Lentil Soup
- Classic Tomato Soup (Lightened Up!)
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Homemade Vegetarian Chili
- Spicy Black Bean Soup
Please let me know how your chowder turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Southwestern Corn Chowder
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 8 cups 1x
- Category: Soup or stew
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Make this Southwestern corn chowder for a cozy dinner at home! This vegetarian corn chowder recipe is fresh, wholesome and delicious. Recipe yields 8 cups or 4 generous bowls.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ears of fresh sweet corn, shucked (or 6 cups frozen corn kernels)
- 1 pound red potatoes, cut into ¾” cubes (about 3 cups)
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 1 poblano pepper (optional)*, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided, to taste
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream or Greek yogurt**
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Suggested garnishes: Grated sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced green onion, additional cilantro leaves and/or a tiny pinch of chili powder
- In a medium/large Dutch oven or soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the corn, potatoes, onion, poblano, bell pepper, celery, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon chili powder. Stir to combine. Cook until the onions are tender and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, while stirring constantly. Add the broth and water and stir to combine. Drop in the bay leaf.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s not done until the potatoes are fully cooked through and very easily pierced through with a fork.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Using kitchen tongs, remove the bay leaf. Carefully transfer about 3 cups of the soup (about half liquid, half solids) to a blender. Securely fasten the lid and be careful to avoid the hot steam as you blend until completely smooth. Add the butter and blend again.
- Pour the mixture back into the pot. Add the cilantro, crème fraîche (see note if using sour cream or Greek yogurt) and lime juice. Stir to combine. Season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and be generous with the black pepper, to taste. If you’d like more spice, add up to ½ teaspoon more chili powder, to taste.
- Divide the chowder into bowls and top with garnishes of your choice. Leftover chowder will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days or for several months frozen.
*Spice level note: Some poblanos are more spicy than others. If you’re sensitive to spice, you can omit the poblano to be on the safe side, and also go easy on the chili powder. If you love spice, you can stir in additional chili powder to taste, or you could even add a chopped jalapeño to the pot with the other peppers.
**Crème fraîche or sour cream: I like crème fraîche because it does not curdle when stirred into hot soup. I use the Vermont Creamery brand and typically find it near the goat cheese. If you prefer to use sour cream or Greek yogurt, you can “temper” it to prevent it from curdling. Simply place the sour cream or yogurt in a heat-safe bowl. Add a few splashes of the warm soup liquid, stirring after each, until the mixture is warmed through. Then stir the mixture into the soup.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit the butter. I’ve heard from some commenters who love it without any additional creaminess. Or for results closest to the soup as shown, use my vegan sour cream in place of the crème fraîche—it works great! You might enjoy garnishing individual servings with an additional dollop of vegan sour cream on top.
I am looking at making this but was wondering if you thought it would be something you could do in a crockpot?
Hi! Sorry, I recommend it as is for best results.
OMGoodness outrageously delicious
Thank you, Tara! I’m happy you loved it.
served it with your red cabbage slaw..
yum, another 5 stars!!!
Have you tried freezing the chowder? Potatoes can sometimes be problematic but would love to be able to take this out of the freezer for dinners!
Any chance you can add calories under nutritional info on your recipes?
Hi Raymond! All of that can be found in the nutrition facts below the notes of the recipe. I hope that helps!
I love this recipe and looking at it I just can’t see where all that sodium is coming from. Do you think you might double check on that one? Thanks so much!
Hi Deb, more on my Nutrition Disclaimer. You can decrease the sodium by adjusting your salt and using low or no sodium options. These are just estimates. I’m glad you loved it!
KATE GIRL!. Okay so this soup is amazing. I love all of your recipes. The only thing I did different was add a little cumin and pureed the entire soup. I wasn’t a fan of the texture with only half blended. It is so good.
I’m delighted you loved it, Meagan! Thank you for sharing.
This is a go-to recipe for me. I make the vegan version. It is simple, delish, and I can make big batches. LOVE IT.
I doubled this and made it for our “quaranteam” last night and it was a big hit! I love your recipes!
YUM! I made this tonight for my husband and our friend who came over for dinner. I made a few little changes – I’m not crazy about onions so I leave those out and add extra garlic, I used Kite Hill plain almond milk yogurt in place of sour cream, and since we eat meat we topped with crumbled bacon and served with fresh bread. SO GOOD! We will definitely be coming back to this one!
I’m happy it was a hit, Elena! I appreciate your review.
Wow, this is a standout recipe. My husband and I both loved it. I thought it might be bland with so few spices, but it was not at all! I loved the diversity of vegetables in this one as well as the nutrition profile. I omitted the dairy and added diced green chiles. It was not difficult to make, so it’s definitely going into the regular rotation.
Wonderful to hear, Christy! I appreciate you taking the time to review.
Hi Kate! I heard about your vegetarian recipes from my brother. (We both need to lose weight and he’s trying a more vegetarian lifestyle.) The first recipe I tried was yesterday, the Southwestern Corn Chowder… Typically, I change recipes up a bit, and the only thing I did was add a bit more olive oil to the mix. Excellent flavors! Can’t wait to try your famous lentil soup today, that my brother raves about! :) -Jean
I’m glad you both can enjoy recipes together! Thank you for your review.
Hi Kate! Love the recipe!!! Instead of crème fraîche I put in the blender cashew that I left in the fridge in water for 24h
I’m glad that worked out so well for you, Angie! Thank you for your review.
I made this vegan to accommodate special diets in my home. To do so I used vegan butter, omitted any dairy product and added a dash of nutritional yeast. I used a mix of canned and frozen corn, and subbed poblanos with 2 cans of green chiles (gotta use whatcha got, am I right?). It came out great!
KATE! This is SO GOOD! I followed the recipe exactly, except subbed the creme fraiche with your vegan sour cream and omitted the butter. The soup was so creamy, hearty and flavorful. Like so many of your other soups, this is definitely on my go-to list.
I love it! Thank you for sharing, Paula.
After making this corn chowder, I am a true Cookie and Kate fan! It was a big hit for dinner tonight, and I think the only change was halving the cilantro, as my husband is ok with only some. That was just the right move, yum!
Thank you, Christine! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Hi there, I made this soup today and it tastes so delicious. I found your blog a while back when I searched for a vegetarian soup recipe and tried your really good vegetable soup so I decided to come back and try out some other soups on here. I think soups are so underrated. I enjoy making large batches so that I can freeze some for days when I dont have time to cook then it means I have something healthy to look forward to on lazy days. I think this soup would go amazing with cornmeal dumplings and chilli so I’m going to give that a try next time. Anyway all of that to say thank you so much for your beautiful recipes. :D
Thank you for coming back! I’m happy you enjoyed this soup, Vicky.
Legitimately thought I just wasn’t good at cooking until I found your site. Every single thing I’ve made has been SO GOOD! this included! I added a little cumin, garlic salt, and onion powder for additional flavor ☺️ It was so good! And filling. I still can’t believe how veggie dense this was!
I love to hear that! Thank you for sharing, Natalie.
This Southwestern Corn Chowder is absolutely amazing. I was so impressed with the taste that I couldn’t help myself grabbing seconds. Thank you:)
Thank you for your review! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Very disappointing: it was very bland. I ended up quadrupling the spices, adding parsley, garlic salt and 2 extra tbspns of lime. It ended up edible, but not something I would ever cook again.
Hi Janet, I’m sorry you didn’t love this recipe. Sometimes when spices aren’t fresh, they can impact the results.
I just made your Southwestern Corn Chowder for the second time. It is my favorite recipe from any cookbook or site that I have tried. It tastes so fresh and definitely better than any restaurant soup that I’ve had. The flavors are subtle but I love that you can taste all of the ingredients independently. I think that’s because the chili powder is used lightly. I ended up using 1 tsp and 1/2 of a large poblemo pepper. Thank you
This is one of my favourite soup recipes. I also love your butternut squash and tomato soup recipes. I’ve been making freezer soups as I am pregnant and close to my due date and want to have delicious food all ready to go when we bring our baby home :)
I found the instructions to cut the corn off the in the story section.
Hi Kate! This recipe looks absolutely smashing. I can’t wait to try it out. One question – could you suggest a substitute for the potatoes? We are avoiding night shades. Could sweet potatoes work? Anything else? Thanks so much!
Hi, you could try sweet potatoes, although I haven’t tried it myself.
This soup is absolutely delicious! I didnt have a poblanos chilli so used some chipotle in Adobe sauce and it was amazing. I will definitely be making it again! And again and again!
So delicious and the blended soup/butter combo is a game changer :-) Plus it was easy to make – thanks so much for another great recipe!
Thank you, Nick!
Yes… It was great to try at home..It made my dinner party at next level
This soup is AMAZING! It has so much flavor and I can’t wait to make it again. My daughter is 12 and she’s a vegetarian, and loves your recipes! . Thank you so much!
Thank you, Tiffany! I appreciate your review.
Good soup. For extra corn flavor (and for less waste), you can scrape the corn cob with a knife to extract all the flavor and pulp from it.
One of the best food blogs out there – thank you for sharing this recipe and all of the amazing fresh, wholesome and oh-so-delicious recipes! I’ve never followed one of your recipes and been disappointed in the results – they are ALL winners! I’m in OMA (we too have a stellar food scene) – but KCMO is home to some of my all time favorite spots, markets and groceries! (just recreated my believed blueberry gooey butter cake last weekend)! KCMO is now home to my favorite food blog as well! Thank you!
You’re welcome, Alexa! I’m glad you love it. I haven’t been in a long time, but should check it out.
So wonderfully delicious! Followed it exactly as written with the exception of adding a bit of chipotle chilli since I like the taste. Didn’t have crème fraîche so I used tempered sour cream. Just perfect!
Sounds delicious, Meghan! Thank you for sharing.
Absolutely fabulous – 4 empty bowls!
Wonderful, Jane! Thank you for your review.
This is a delicious recipe! I’m just wondering if you could add beans for more protein? When would you recommend adding them?
Sure, I would add them during the simmering time.
Made it! Love it!!
Great to hear, Liz! Thank you for your review.
This recipe has been on my “to make” list for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally made it! I made it in the Instant pot (sauteed onion and pepper, added everything through the water, pressure cooked for 8 minutes) and it was delicious. Topped with cheese and crushed tortilla chips. Looking forward to leftovers!
I’m glad you finally made it and enjoyed it, Hilary!
This was amazing!! I used russets and a yellow onions and skipped poblano because…kids. I want to try the original recipe next time and maybe increase the lime juice a bit. Sooo delicious!
Thank you for your review, Krissy! I’m glad you loved it.
I have enjoyed every soup recipe I have tried from Cookie and Kate (best lentil, tomato, and now this one). I used an anaheim pepper instead of a poblano, and I used frozen corn. Everything else the same and its delicious. I plan on trying to use some of the leftover creme fraiche (which I have never used before this!) in Cookie and Kates tomato soup, curious how that might be. Will see this week! This recipe is a keeper for me.
Thank you for sharing how you made this, Jennifer! I’m glad it turned out so well.
Absolutely delicious and perfect for a cool fall day!
Kate, I have been making your recipes for years, love them all. This was my first time making the Southwest corn chowder. Hubby says it’s a keeper! I ended up adding Cholula green pepper sauce, because I didn’t leave any seeds or ribs from the pepper. Next time I will. Thanks for your great recipes!
I’m so happy to hear that, Becky! Thank you for sharing.
What a great recipe! I added a bit more sour cream and replaced the poblano pepper with jalapeños, it was divine!
Want to make this soup on Christmas Eve, but don’t have a blender. Do you think an emersion blender or food processor would work?
Hi, You can try it. Let me know what you think!
Great soup! I found we were out of potatoes so used sweet potatoes instead. It was great!
So delicious! And super healthy! I will definitely be making this one again.
That’s great to hear, Brandy!
Wow, this is so good! I decreased the poblano and used more red pepper (baby mouth, sadly). Also floated some homemade parmesan crisps over the top. That makes a great presentation, and tastes fantastic.
I’m glad you loved it, Jay! I appreciate your review.
OMG. This is fantastic. I could not find a poblano but used chipotle chilli powder and this is amazing.
Hooray! I’m glad you loved it, Heather.
Really delicious! Thank you!
You’re welcome, Rebecca!
Can this soup be frozen? Thanks – can’t wait to make! It looks delicious!
Hi Ruth, I haven’t tried freezing this one, sorry!
I have frozen this soup and it comes out just as good
very comforting. I blended 2/3rd for my desired consistency. i used frozen corn which worked just fine!
I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but I got a Trojan spyware pop up from your minestrone soup page. I will try someone elses recipie I guess.
Hi Fred, Thank you for your feedback. I will follow-up with my advertising team. I can confirm I have strong security measures on my blog and with my advertisements. Sometimes it can be the browser you are using and other sites you have been to.
I made this last night and it was amazing! I love the technique and result of blending part of it and returning it to the pot. Great texture, great flavors and easy and fun to make. Thanks!
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it, Amber! I appreciate your review.
This was so tasty! Perfect soup for a cold winter night!
I’m glad you loved it, AJ! Thank you for your review.
This was delicious! Reminds me a little bit of my mom’s corn chowder but I enjoyed the additional veggies and spices in your recipe. It sounds weird but my mom adds sliced hard boiled eggs to hers. I’d recommend that for anyone looking for extra protein
My husband and I made a resolution this winter to learn to make as many different kinds of soup as we could. This recipe was the 7th we tried and our favorite by far! We didn’t have celery on hand so used a couple carrots instead, and wound up using a couple dashes of cayenne pepper because we didn’t have a hot pepper. It tasted pretty good but something was missing – then I realized the secret ingredient I add to my chili recipe would do the trick. After I added 2 or 3 tablespoons of brown sugar it went from a 4.9 to a 10! Thanks for sharing a great recipe – we are sure to make this one again and again!
What a fun challenge! I love that. Thank you for sharing, Laureen.
I made this on a whim to try something new.
It was such a hit that I am making it again next week…it’s so cozy, comforting and hearty.
My local store was out of Poblano peppers, so. I substituted with an Anaheim pepper. I used some leftover Greek yogurt in place of the Creme Fraiche…it came out great.
Thank you for sharing, Dave! I’m happy it turned out.
Could you do a cashew cream instead of sour cream/Greek yogurt?
Hi Mary! For results closest to the soup as shown, use my vegan sour cream in place of the crème fraîche—it works great! You might enjoy garnishing individual servings with an additional dollop of vegan sour cream on top.
made this as is and wow it was a big hit with my whole family.
Wonderful to hear, Tania! I appreciate you sharing.
love this recipe , comes out amazing every time and everyone i make it for adores it! i’ve found cayenne pepper works really well with the other flavours. I’d also recommend more lime (but that’s just because i’m obsessed with lime!) i also don’t do any of the blending to save time, would recommend :)
I’m glad you love it, Vikki! Thank you for your review.
Delicious! Oh my goodness. Cut recipe in half, since there’s only 2 of us, but now wish I’d make a full pot of it. So tasty! Used
poblano, for some heat. Just excellent! Thank you.
Delicious!! An easy 5/5. Family loved it!! I’m back again to make it a week later :) Last week I used Greek yogurt, and this week I’m going to try sour cream. Thanks!!
That’s great to hear, Kelly! Thank you for taking the time to review. I’m glad you loved it.
Delicious! I made the recipe with frozen corn and it was absolutely beautiful and yielded a lot of serves.
I’m glad you loved it, Zharzi! Thank you for your review.
I exactly followed the recipe and It was simply yummmmm!! Can’t resist to try more of your recipes.
Do you take the skin off the poblano?
Hi Megan, no need to take the skin off.
I made it as written. It was wonderful. Next time I will put in either 1/2 tsp more chili powder or some chopped jalapeño. I will definitely make this again.
That’s great to hear, Suzae! Thank you for your review.
I made this recipe as written with one change — I had most of a can of coconut milk I needed to use up, so I subbed it for the water (I added water to get to the 2 cup amount) and skipped the butter and crepe fraiche. I wound up using my immersion blender to make it all smooth-ish because I wasn’t as precise with my veg chopping as I would like for the recipe as written. I just took a spoonful and it is wonderful. Like late summer in a bowl. Creamy without any dairy — so I think it is vegan this way. I haven’t tried the original and am sure its wonderful too — just wanted to take advantage of what I had on hand. Thank you for another perfect recipe!
Thank you for sharing how you made this, Gina! I appreciate your review.
This was delicious! I was looking for a fresh recipe using summer vegetables and this was perfect. I added smoked paprika and Hatch green chiles. I will absolutely be making this again!
Great to hear, Briana! Thank you for your review.
Followed recipe and added just a little more poblano/chili powder and it was perfect! Thanks for such a great recipe, it’s a keeper.
I’m glad you loved it, Catherine! I appreciate your review.
I made it today,very tasty , thanks a lot. The only adjustment that I made, I added only 4 cups of broth, without adding 2 cups of water. I didn’t want it to be watery and I’m happy with results ☺️.
I’m glad you loved this recipe, Olga! I appreciate your review.
This was SO GOOD!
Great to hear, Ashely! I appreciate your review.
Try not to cringe when you read this question, but is it possible to make this recipe with canned corn? I’ve never found frozen corn since moving to a new country (crazy, right?) and fresh corn is only available seasonally. If yes, when during the cooking process would I add the corn? Thank you so much for all of your wonderful recipes!
I haven’t tried it, but you could. Let me know how it turns out, Tama!
I made this for a tailgate and got rave reviews from veggie and non veggie family alike! The potatoes tasted perfectly melted in it. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Shoba! I appreciate your review.
Hello from London!
I made this at the weekend – super quick and absolutely delicious! I added sour cream but actually feel it didn’t need it, so next time I’ll stop at the butter & blending stage.
I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes. I’ve been looking for healthy food that also tastes good (and isn’t full of obscure ingredients that are hard to get) and this blog seems just the ticket.
So good! Thank you!
I’m glad you enjoyed it!
can this be thrown into a crockpot?
Hi, I haven’t tired it so I can’t say for sure.
This soup is AMAZING! SO SO SO GOOD! So colorful, so flavorful, I can’t say enough good things about it. Definitely a keeper!
I’m glad you loved it, Chele! Thank you for your review.
how big are your cups?in ml or grams?
Hi Kata, I don’t provide metric conversions. Sorry!
Yum! Made for dinner last night with quesadillas. Cozy post holiday supper. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Susan!
Going to try this for my vegetarian dairy free daughter this weekend! Using frozen sweet corn and potatoes from my garden and homemade veg stock! Looking for cashew sour cream to use instead of dairy! Excited to try! Serving with homemade tortilla chips and guacamole!
I hope it’s a hit!
I made this chowder tonight without the poblano pepper but I upped the amount of chili powder. My husband and I loved it!
We do have a lot left over so I was wondering whether it can be frozen. I have frozen your vegetable soup (my husband’s favorite!) with no adverse effects so I think it should be ok. I would appreciate your thoughts.
Wonderful to hear, Kathy! Thank you for your review.
I’ve made maybe 10 of your soup recipes, and even with canned corn (I know!), this is right up there at the top! It ties with your peanut soup recipe for 1st place in our home. Sooo delicious. I can’t wait to make it exactly as written with fresh corn this summer! Thank you thank you for making cooking good food so easy and approachable. Your recipes are always winners.
This soup is amazing! Soooooooo delicious & quite simple to make. It’s great with or without the lime, the coriander and the yoghurt. I made it with one potato & one sweet potato (that’s all I had on hand). I also used a long red chilli. I feel it’s a very flexible soup to make that tastes fabulous!
I’m glad you loved it, Linda! I appreciate your review.
I made exactly as written using frozen corn except for replacing cilantro with parsley. Maybe fresh corn would make it better, but I found the corn very chewy and the soup very bland. After reading other reviews I added some cumin and more Chili powder as well as some taco seasoning. As one other reviewer did I added a heaping spoon of brown sugar. I also puréed almost all of it to break up the corn. I served it topped with grated cheddar/Monterey Jack blend. It was okay, but wouldn’t make it again.
I’m sorry to hear that!
We had my 77 year old grandmother over for dinner and made this recipe for the first time. She loves all C&K recipes so she was excited to try it. It was a total crowd pleaser and not too hot with the addition of the poblano! Will definitely be adding this recipe to the regular soup rotation!
Great to hear, Daria!