This is the best way to make corn chowder from scratch with fresh sweet corn and no roux! It’s a simple chunky creamy recipe with less fat and it’s gluten-free too. 

many bowls of corn chowder on a table with corn and bread

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If you’ve been wanting to make corn chowder from scratch but weren’t quite sure how to do it then you’re in the right place. I have all the details how to get chunky and creamy corn chowder made with fresh corn on the cob, potatoes and a little bit of cream.

It’s just the right balance of chunky and creamy thanks to a trick I used to thicken the soup and make it without any fussy roux. If you need more convincing, I’ve topped the bowls with bacon and scallion for irresistible and authentic flavor. Let’s get cooking!

corn chowder in bowls with herbs and bread on the table

Ingredients You’ll Need For This Corn Chowder Recipe

Full measurements and instructions can be found below in the printable recipe card. 

Unsalted butter:

I almost always start my soup recipes with olive oil or another oil, but in the case of chowder, it make a difference to use butter for the saute step. A couple tablespoons is all you need. 

Garlic:

A relatively big dose of freshly chopped garlic adds flavor to this recipe. I like to use freshly chopped garlic. I do not care for the tase of purchased jarred garlic, and when you chop it yourself you know it is preservative and additive free! 

Sweet onion:

Like my recipe for Ratatouille I shared earlier this month, I used sweet onion to amplify the natural sweetness of this chowder. It caramelizes more easily and increases the depth of flavor. 

Smoked paprika:

Instead of using bacon in the base of the recipe, and adding extra saturated fat, I used smoked paprika to give the chowder the classic smoky creamy flavor, without any fat or added calories! You can find it in the spice section of large supermarkets. 

Dry thyme:

Thyme adds a nice woodsy note to the vegetables in this recipe. You can sub in fresh if you happen to have it on hand. Just use 2 teaspoons instead! 

Salt and pepper:

I use regular table salt and ground pepper in this recipe. If you use kosher salt, make sure to read this first. 

White wine:

To deglaze I add in white wine. This acts to balance the flavors too by adding an acidic element. Since this soup is so sweet (from the corn and onion) the tartness from the wine helps to keep the balance of tastes. Additionally adding a little bit of alcohol can help your taste buds perceive the flavors better. If you’ve tried my Minestrone Soup Recipe, you’ll know that the small amount of wine really does make a difference. 

Chicken broth or vegetable broth:

I have been enjoying having homemade chicken stock on hand so I like that best with this recipe, but if you have store bought broth, look for a high quality chicken broth. To make this vegetarian I recommend either homemade vegetable stock or Imagine No Chicken Broth. Note that the added salt in this recipe is aligned with salted broth, so if you are using homemade unsalted stock, you’ll need to add additional salt to balance the recipe. 

Celery:

I usually use carrots, onions and celery (mirepoix) in my soup recipes, but today I wanted to make sure that the chowder didn’t have flecks of orange carrot in it, so I only used celery. I chopped it fine so that it would soften well. 

Potatoes:

For this recipe I used Yukon Gold potatoes. White potatoes or red potatoes would also work. These are all varieties of waxy thin-skinned potatoes wich will hold their shape when they are soft. Conversely, floury potatoes (like a Russet) fall apart when they are boiled. 

Fresh corn on the cob:

To make the most of summer fresh corn, I used eight ears of shucked sweet corn. I have a tip below on how to cut the kernels from the cob easily! If you are subbing in frozen corn, use four and a half cups. 

Heavy cream:

Because this soup is lower in fat, I was able to use heavy cream and still keep the amount of saturated fat to 5 grams per cup! It make a difference in the creaminess of the final product. If you’re looking to shave off a few additional calories, you can use half and half instead which is what I use in my Seafood Chowder, and the results are still really lovely. 

Chopped scallion and bacon for garnish:

If you’re missing the bacon, never fear! Just cook some up and crumble it on top. You’ll still get your bacon fix for far less calories and saturated fat, than by using bacon grease in the recipe. The scallions add a fresh element at the end and look so pretty! 

How To Cut Corn Kernels off the Cob

Here’s a little tip I learned earlier this summer. If you take a small bowl, and invert it inside a larger bowl, you can create the perfect improvised corn cutting container. 

  1. Take a large bowl and set it on the work surface. If you do not have a non-skid bowl, you can set a damp cloth underneath it to prevent it from sliding around. 
  2. Set a second, smaller bowl inside the large bowl, but upside down. This creates a little platform for you to stand your corn cob on.
  3. Stand the corn cob on end on the inverted bowl and cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp chef’s knife
  4. The kernels will fall into the well around the smaller bowl instead of spilling off the cutting board. Repeat with the remaining cobs.
  5. Remove the smaller bowl and scrape off any kernels that stick to it. 

For this recipe I used eight ears of corn which yielded me about 4 1/2 cups of corn kernels. If you have slightly more or less it isn’t a big deal. If you have a lot of extra you can add them to salsa or guacamole or pasta with corn and smoked mozzarella

 

How To Make Corn Chowder

If you read my post about Soupe Au Pistou, then you know all about how passionate I am about cooking soup. This corn chowder method is no different. When I developed this recipe I had three goals in mind:

  1. I wanted the technique to be as easy as I possibly could.
  2. I wanted to make use of fresh corn.
  3. I wanted to keep this creamy chowder on the healthier side. 

Here is the technique I came up with! 

Use a Heavy Pot:

I would recommend using your largest heaviest pot for this recipe. Pots with a thick heavy bottom help to prevent scorching! 

Cook The Onion and Garlic in Butter:

To start, soften the onion and garlic in the melted butter. Look for a bit of browning which means the sugars in the onion have started to caramelize. This will give the chowder depth of flavor. 

Bloom the Spices

Adding the spices to the onion and butter mixture will allow the spices to bloom. Since they are dried, it’s helpful to extract more flavor from them by cooking them with fat first. The fat helps to carry the flavors. 

Deglaze with Wine

To get any fond off the bottom of the soup pot add in the wine. This will immediately drop the temperature of the cooking surface and prevent the onions or spices from browning too much. Cook off extra wine to intensify flavor and evaporate most of the alcohol. 

Add Broth and Veggies

Now that you’re done with the browning and blooming and deglazing the business of soup making really happens. This is where you add in the liquid and all the veggies. The potatoes, corn and celery go in with the broth. 

Simmer to Soften the Veggies 

  • Once you bring the soup up to a simmer, it’ll take about 20 minutes to soften the potatoes.
  • To test if they are soft, simply poke one with a fork. If the have any resistance, keep cooking the soup for a little bit longer.
  • If you can mash a cube of potato against the side of the pot, you’re good to move on to the next step.

How To Get The Best Creamy and Chunky Texture without Roux

Unlike a corn chowder that is thickened with roux, this corn chowder is thickened by partially pureeing it. The potatoes thicken the chowder naturally. To get the optimal chunky and creamy texture you’ll have to separate out some of the chowder and then stir it back into the pureed soup.

  1. Once the potatoes are soft, remove the chowder to a trivet on the work surface. 
  2. Ladle out three cups of the soup. Make sure to get a blend of liquid and solids. Set that aside. 
  3. The remaining soup in the pot will be pureed. If you have an immersion blender I highly recommend it for pureeing hot soups. It is less messy and safer. If not, you may have to puree the soup in batches. 
  4. Puree the soup completely.
  5. Stir the reserved three cups of chunky soup and the cream back into the pureed chowder and stir until it is combined. 

three bowls of corn chowder with an ear of corn and oregano blossoms

Steps To Make This Recipe

What To Serve With This Corn Chowder

To garnish the chowder, I topped each bowl off with a scattering of corn kernels, crumbled cooked bacon and scallions. I also dusted on a bit of black pepper. We loved the contrast of the toppings with the creamy chunky tender soup!

More Garnish Ideas:

  • You could give this more of a Southwest flair by topping it with roasted green chiles, toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro.
  • You could grill an ear of corn, and use that on top. To give it even more smoky peppery flavor, dust on a little chipotle powder. Add on red onion for color. 
  • If you love seafood, try adding a decadent touch and top it with lobster, sour cream, chives and chervil! 

Serving and Menu Suggestions:

Corn chowder in a bowl with a spoonful held to the camera

Make Ahead Tips

Leftovers or Make Ahead

This recipe is a great make ahead recipe for meal prep. It can be refrigerated up to four days in advance. Rewarm gently on the stovetop or microwave until steaming hot. 

How To Freeze

  1. Decant and Cool: This Corn Chowder freezes beautifully. Measure it into 2 cup or 4 cup resealable containers (leave headspace.)
  2. Let it Cool: It is important to let the chowder cool completely. (Note: do not seal hot soup as it will cause unwanted microbial action and possibly spoil your soup!) 
  3. Cover: Seal shut.  
  4. Label: Label and date the containers. If you have a chest freezer the labels should go on the top, for a stand up freezer, the side is easier. 
  5. Freeze: Set containers in the freezer in a place that it is can stand upright. I sometimes find a sheet tray helpful for this.  
  6. Thaw: To thaw the soup, you can do so overnight in the refrigerator. Or if you are short on time the microwave works well. I do not recommend reheating this from frozen on the stovetop because the cream may break. 
  7. Reheat: To reheat warm it until it is steaming hot in a saucepan or in the microwave. Avoid boiling on the stovetop as it can scorch or break easily. 

many bowls of chowder from the side on a white table

Thank you so much for reading. Let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a star rating and review. It helps a lot! 

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

Print
closeup of a bowl of corn chowder

Corn Chowder

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 10 cups 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Creamy and chunky corn chowder made with fresh corn on the cob. This soup is thickened with potatoes so there is no roux required, which means it is gluten-free. Keep it vegetarian or top it with bacon for authentic flavor.


Scale

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 ½ teaspoon dry thyme

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup dry white wine

6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth, preferably reduced sodium

3 stalks celery, finely diced

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

8 ears of corn, corn kernels removed (about 4 ½ cups)

2/3 cup heavy cream

Chopped scallion and bacon for garnish, optional (see *note)


Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring often until the onions are starting to brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Bloom Spices: Add in paprika, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to coat. Cook until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add in the wine to prevent the spices from scorching. Let simmer until mostly evaporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Add Liquid and Veggies: Add in broth, celery, potatoes and corn, and bring to a simmer. Simmer 20 minutes until the potatoes are very soft and starting to fall apart. Remove from the heat.
  4. How to Puree: Remove 3 cups of the soup from the pot and set aside. Transfer the remaining soup to a blender. Use caution when pureeing hot liquids. Blend until smooth. Combine the reserved 3 cups soup and the pureed soup. Add in the cream and stir to combine. Serve topped with bacon and scallions.

Notes

More Garnish Ideas:

  • You could give this more of a Southwest flair by topping it with roasted green chiles, toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro.
  • You could grill an ear of corn, and use that on top. To give it even more smoky peppery flavor, dust on a little chipotle powder. Add on red onion for color.
  • If you love seafood, try adding a decadent touch and top it with lobster, sour cream, chives and chervil!

Make Ahead and Leftovers

This recipe is a great make ahead recipe for meal prep. It can be refrigerated up to four days in advance. Rewarm gently on the stovetop or microwave until steaming hot.

 


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 177 calories
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 24 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

Corn chowder in two bowls with text overlay

Corn Chowder