Thick and rich Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder is a delicious way to showcase the natural sweetness and creaminess of summer corn!
I usually tend to prefer eating corn raw rather than cooked. I feel like it has such a creamy yet refreshing taste when eaten uncooked right off the cob. I make two exceptions to this admittedly not-so-steadfast rule: grilled corn and corn chowder. Grilled corn is beautiful in it’s roasted simplicity (sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil please!), but corn chowder is a real showcase for the natural creaminess of corn.
When made with peak summer corn, chowder is a real treat that will actually make you want to eat soup in the warm weather. The corn lends its natural sweetness, the potato and cashews lend a rich body, and the corn flour (just finely ground corn, not the same things as cornstarch) acts as a very apropos gluten-free thickener.
Use four ears of corn for this recipe, five if your corn is on the smaller side. Strip the husks and rinse away any silk as usual, but when you go to cut the kernels off the cobs, just lay the ear of corn down on the cutting board and make a parallel slice down the side to remove the juicy kernels. Keep turning the corn to get all of the kernels off.
I prefer this technique much more than the usual method of standing the cob of corn on one of its ends and slicing down toward the cutting board with your knife. It just seems like an unnecessarily dangerous way to strip the corn. Either way you do it, make sure you use the back of your knife to scrape the creamy, pulpy innards left behind on the cob…that stuff is gold.
Use this recipe as a base for playing around with different kinds of corn chowder. Try replacing the paprika with a blend of ground ancho chile and chipotle powder and swap the parsley for cilantro to make a totally different-tasting but equally delicious chowder, especially nice served with a squeeze of lime. Or go Middle Eastern by caramelizing your onions then adding some cumin, coriander, allspice, and fennel. Or just simply change up the herbs, I’ve used rosemary, tarragon, chives, and dill…they all result in a great chowder!
- 4 ears of corn (kernels removed and cobs retained)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups water
- 8-10 sprigs of parsley (leaves separated from the stems)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced (or 2 leeks or 5-6 scallions)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 starchy potato, peeled and diced small
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons corn flour
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅓ cup unroasted cashews, soaked in warm water for 2 hours or in boiling water for 20 minutes
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Prepare your corn by removing the husks and rinsing off any remaining silk. Slice the kernels off by laying the cob flat on your cutting board and using a chef's knife to make a parallel slice down one side. Turn the corn onto this now flat side and make another parallel slice. Keep doing this until all of the kernels are removed, then use the back of your knife to scrape out all of the pulpy innards that still remain attached in the pockets of the cob. Do this for all the corn and set the kernels and innards aside.
- Use your hands to break the stripped cobs in half and throw them into a pot with the vegetable broth, water, the stems of the parsley sprigs, and the bay leaf. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer away for 10 minutes to extract the flavor from the cobs and herbs.
- While that is simmering, in another large pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds before adding the corn kernels/pulpy innards, diced potato, paprika, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Toss these veggies around for 2 minutes then add the corn flour and salt. Stir it around to coat the veggies before pouring in the simmered corn cob stock. You can strain it through a sieve before adding it in but as long as you're careful to not let the parsley sprigs into your soup as you are pouring, it's ok not to strain.
- Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potato pieces are cooked and tender.
- After the potatoes have cooked, transfer 3-4 cups of the soup into a blender. Add the soaked cashews and blend on high until completely smooth--this may take a few minutes depending on your blender. (Be careful when blending, as the soup is hot. You may want to remove the vent in the lid to release steam, but be sure to put a hand towel over it and start the blender on LOW speed)
- When completely smooth, pour this blended mixture back into the pot with the unblended portion. Stir in the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Garnish with chopped scallions and a dusting of paprika and serve hot.
-The corn flour here acts a gluten-free thickener. It gives a more viscous consistency but it is still soupy. If you want a more thick chowder, throw in another Tablespoon. If you can't find corn flour or if gluten-free isn't a concern, you can very easily substitute 3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour.