Corn chowder is a classic New England dish to enjoy all year long. However, this creamy vegan coconut corn chowder is particularly delicious chilled and topped with plenty of sweet crispy dates and fresh herbs. This vegetarian recipe is cream-free, gluten-free and refreshingly light.
How to Make Flavorful Plant Based Corn Chowder without Cream
This corn soup is not your traditional New England chowder. However, it is super creamy, with a southeast Asian twist. Homemade rich corn stock meets full fat coconut milk for a creamy base.
Fresh sweet corn, garlic and ginger pack a unique flavor punch. And crispy dates, chiles and fresh herbs make festive summery toppings.
Start with homemade corn stock
The base of this rich corn chowder is homemade corn stock. Of course, if you’re short on time, you can use store-bought vegetable broth. However, our recipe for homemade broth with the corn cobs adds a ton of extra corn flavor.
If you don’t have 2 hours to simmer your fresh corn ears, stick to high-quality packaged vegetable broth. We like Pacific Foods organic veggie broth. We use it whenever we’re short on time but have a craving for any number of delightfully cooling vegetable soups, like this Asparagus and Spring Pea Soup.
However, if you’re making this vegan chowder on a slow day and have some time for simmering, corn stock is quite easy. It can also be made ahead of time and frozen for up to three months. Bonus: it helps reduce food waste!
By making homemade corn broth, you really get the most out of your fresh corn. Here’s how to make homemade corn stock:
- First, remove the kernels from their cobs
- Then, stick those naked cobs in a pot of hot water with your aromatics. We use the classic broth flavorings onion, celery, garlic and fresh herbs. Add some extra flavorings with hot chiles and ginger. These complement the coconut milk in the chowder as well.
- Now, just sit back, and let it boil away. You can simmer the broth for up to two hours. But if you don’t have the time, even 30 to 45 minutes will help flavor your corn chowder.
How to make crispy dates
While your corn stock is bubbling away, let’s consider toppings for your corn chowder. We love the classic addition of fresh raw corn kernels to top each bowl of creamy soup. However, we also wanted to give this unique dish a bit of a new hat to wear. Enter crispy dates.
To make the simplest and sweetest crispy dates, we tested a few different cooking methods. We wanted to crisp up the dates without losing their sweetness. And, we wanted to make crispy dates without much oil.
Ultimately, the best way to get Medjools crispy without loosing their signature sweetness is a bit of cornstarch. To make easy crispy dates, add a bit of cornstarch to a plate. Then, briefly dust each date slice in the powder. You only need a thin layer.
Finally, heat a drizzle of oil in a frying pan. Toss your powdered dates in the hot oil for a couple of minutes. You’ll want to keep the dates moving in the pan, as they can burn easily. Avoid letting the dates clump together in the pan. They’re still sticky, so they could end up in a big clump if you pile them up.
It’s also important to avoid piling the fried date slices on top of each other when they’re cooling. They will stick if left to their own devices. So spread out the crispy dates and let them cool completely before topping your chowder.
Blending vegan coconut corn chowder
Once you’ve simmered your corn stock and crisped your dates, the rest of this chowder recipe is very easy.
First, boil a few white potatoes. These make your soup extra hearty. Yet you won’t need to add heavy cream or other thickeners.
Next, pump up the flavor of your corn soup with ginger, chiles and garlic. At this point, you’ll also return the corn kernels to their friends in the pot.
And finally, to bring this recipe together and build your silky smooth vegan corn chowder, blend. You can certainly skip puréeing the soup if you like it chunky. However, blending creates a deeper flavor we love in this creamy coconut soup.
We used our favorite immersion blender for this recipe. It makes things easy because you can blend right in the stock pot. Of course, a regular stand blender also does the trick just as well. Just remember that heat can cause a lot of pressure to build up in your blender. Start by blending just half of the soup to avoid explosions! You may also want to keep the top open on your blender to let steam escape.
Final step: Serve and dress your chowder up!
Now that you’ve simmered, crisped and blended, it’s time to top your vegan coconut corn chowder however you like. You can serve this creamy corn soup warm or cool. You can pile it high with red chiles and green onions, or with just a sprinkle of crispy dates. It’s totally up to you, but be sure to let us know what you think!
Why you should be making more creamy vegan soups
If you love this recipe, then you might be looking for even more delicous vegetarian soups to add to your rotation. We’ve often expressed our love for creamy puréed vegan soups. To name just a few reasons you should be making them every week:
- They’re super flavorful and colorful. Two signs that they pack a ton of nutrients.
- With the right ingredients and stock on hand, vegetable soups are fast easy to whip up on a weeknight.
- They make a healthy and light dinner or lunch all year long.
- And best of all, you can meal prep puréed soups and store them in the fridge to enjoy for a whole week. I think they get even better the next day!
Try these healthy vegan soups next:
- Creamy Vegan Roasted Tomato Soup. A summery twist on classic tomato soup recipe.
- Cheesy Broccoli Soup. This one is great for chilly winter months.
- Thai Red Curry Pumpkin Soup. Top it with crispy tofu for extra protein.
- Roasted Yellow Tomato and Bell Pepper Soup. Bright yellow and fresh tasting, this soup is pure summer flavor.
Want to make your soup into a complete meal? Here are some delicous dishes to pair with this corn chowder, or any vegan soup:
- Grilled Romaine Salad with Vegan Ranch
- Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta with Caramelized Onions
- Vegan Crab Cakes
- Vegan Caprese Panini
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This creamy vegan coconut corn chowder is best served chilled and topped with plenty of crunchy toasted dates and fresh summer herbs.
Corn Stock (optional, you can sub with store-bought or homemade vegetable broth):
- 4 ears of corn, kernels removed
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1–2 whole hot chiles
- 2 carrots, chopped into 3 pieces
- 1 small onion, halved
- 1 stalk celery, chopped into 3 pieces
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 5–6 pitted Medjool dates, thinly sliced into rounds or diced
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, grated or minced
- 2 medium potatoes, diced (about 8-10 oz)
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ –2 cups corn stock, depending on how thick you like your chowder
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- Kernels from 4 ears of corn
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, optional
For the corn stock:
- Add all ingredients to a large stock pot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. Strain and reserve stock. Extra stock can be frozen for up to 3 months.
To make the crispy dates:
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Line a plate with paper towels nearby.
- Add cornstarch to a shallow plate. Lightly dust sliced dates in cornstarch by dropping them on the plate and rolling them around. Brush of any excess cornstarch before adding dates to the hot pan. Pan-fry, tossing constantly, until dates just begin to brown. They can burn easily, so this is a hands-on job.
- Transfer crispy dates to the paper towel-lined plate, spread them out so they don’t stick together, and allow to cool completely. They will crisp up as they cool.
To make the chowder:
- Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add onions, reduce heat to medium-low let cook for 1-2 minutes, and add garlic and ginger. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until onions are translucent.
- Add diced potatoes and season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Add corn kernels, reserving about 1 cup raw, and kaffir lime leaves, if using. Stir in coconut milk and 2 cups of corn stock and bring just to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, 5-10 minutes.
- To puree the soup, let cool slightly, remove kaffir lime leaves, and use an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender. If using a blender, you will likely need to work in batches so the hot soup doesn’t erupt. Be careful!
- Stir in lime juice and reserved raw corn kernels. Garnish with crispy dates, cilantro, scallions and toasted coconut, if desired.
Homemade corn stock is optional – feel free to substitute with 2 cups of regular vegetable stock/broth.
Keywords: vegan corn chowder