Corn chowder is a classic New England dish all year long. However, to make it especially enjoyable in the summer, this creamy vegan coconut corn chowder is best served chilled and topped with plenty of sweet crispy dates and fresh herbs.
Start with the stock
This corn chowder recipe includes instructions to make homemade corn stock. While the stock is not necessary for this coconut corn chowder, it does add a delicous, deep corn flavor to the finished product. If you don’t have the 2 hours to simmer corn ears, it’s quite alright to use your favorite store-bought 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 the three months. The corn stock is also a great way to get the most out of your fresh corn. You’ll remove the kernels from their cobs anyway to make the chowder, so you might as well stick them in some hot water for a couple of hours to extract their full flavor potential. The rest of the broth flavor comes from classic stock flavorings: onion, celery, garlic and fresh herbs. We added some hot chiles and ginger to complement the coconut milk in the chowder as well.
Fry up some crispy dates to top your corn chowder
Now that you have the base for this vegan coconut corn chowder down, it’s time to consider toppings. 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.
We first experimented with a few crispification methods. We ultimately found that best way to get Medjools crispy without loosing their signature sweetness is a bit of cornstarch. With just a brief dusting in the powder, thin date slices crisp up quickly in a drizzle of oil in a hot pan. This cuts down on oil usage and keeps the dates from turning into a big sticky lump. 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 them out and let them cool completely before topping your chowder.
Let’s blend that vegan coconut corn chowder
Once you’ve simmered your corn stock and crisped your dates, the rest of the chowder recipe comes together quickly. You’ll boil a few white potatoes, pump up the flavor with ginger, chiles and garlic, and return the kernels to their friends in the pot.
And finally, to bring this recipe together and build your silky smooth vegan corn chowder, it’s time to blend. While you can certainly forgo the purée, blending creates a deeper flavor we love in this creamy coconut soup. We used our favorite immersion blender here, which makes things easy because you can blend right in the stock pot. Of course, a regular standing blender also does the trick just as well. One thing to note is that heat can cause a lot of pressure to build up in your blender. Be sure to start by blending just half of the soup to avoid explosions!
Final step: 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. Serve it warm or cool, piled 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!
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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. When the oil is hot, add onions, reduce heat to medium 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.