This vegan corn chowder is the perfect thick and creamy weeknight vegan soup recipe! It’s made with creamy coconut milk, tons of corn, yellow potatoes and just 9 other healthy ingredients. Have this easy, personal favorite on the dinner table in less than an hour.
Before I turned vegan, I was a huge fan of both corn chowder and clam chowder. There’s something so comforting about a soup with a creamy texture and hearty ingredients like potatoes and vegetables.
This vegan corn chowder is inspired by a vegan potato corn chowder I had in Maui, Hawaii at a restaurant called Monkeypod. They used fresh coconut milk in their healthy corn chowder and it was such a rich and creamy soup I couldn’t believe it didn’t have dairy!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Meal-prep friendly. Corn chowder is one of those meals that gets better with time because the flavors continue to develop. Reheat any leftovers throughout the week for a quick and easy vegan lunch.
- Gluten free: The starches in the potato naturally thicken this chowder so using wheat flour or flour alternatives isn’t necessary.
- No processed vegan cheese. Nutritional yeast and cashews give this vegan corn chowder a cheesy undertone without the need for dairy or any store-bought vegan cheese substitutes. Healthy, unprocessed ingredients only!
- Perfect way to use up ears of corn. If you love making vegan corn chowder in both the cooler months and the warm summer months during corn season, this corn chowder is the best, go-to recipe. Cut the corn off the corn cobs and add it to the soup just as you would frozen corn kernels.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Creamy Soup Base
- Raw cashews – I don’t recommend using salted or roasted cashews as it will completely change the flavor here. Raw, plain cashews are what you’ll need!
- Nutritional yeast – I’ve been told by a reader that they left out the nutritional yeast and it was still amazing and enjoyed by non vegans! I do recommend it, though if you want that cheesy flavor and daily dose of B vitamins.
- Plant-milk – I usually prefer coconut milk here (not from a can) but any unsweetened plant-based milk will do here! Unsweetened oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk will all work well.
- Potatoes – Yukon gold potatoes are the best potatoes to use in this hearty chowder. They’re higher in starch compared to potatoes like russet potatoes and red potatoes and help naturally make this chowder thick and creamy. They’ve also got a thin skin that does not require peeling beforehand. Sweet potatoes are not recommended because they will not thicken the chowder the same way gold potatoes will.
- Corn – I usually opt for frozen corn when making homemade vegan corn chowder because it’s quick and what I normally have on hand. If you have fresh sweet corn or cans of corn, that will work great as well!
- Kale – Kale is not typically found in traditionally chowder recipes, but it is included in the Monkeypod Corn Chowder and I am always looking for ways to add a boost of nutrition to my family’s diet. I typically use frozen kale that is chopped super finely, but feel free to use fresh, too!
- Garlic – When I originally developed this recipe, I was avoiding grocery shopping and using up what I could find in my pantry. For this reason, I used garlic powder, but you can also use fresh garlic if you have it! Simply add 2 cloves in right after sautéing the onions and sauté for an additional 1 minute, stirring constantly
Step by Step Instructions
Most of the time needed to make this hearty vegan corn chowder is spent with the chowder simmering on it’s own. Getting it prepped and in the soup pot is super quick and easy!
- Make the chowder cream base: Add the soaked cashews, 4 cups unsweetened plant-milk, 2 cups of vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and miso paste to your high speed blender, like the Vitamix. Note: This usually fills my Vitamix blender jar up to the very top, so if your blender is a lot smaller, I would omit the plant-milk and add it to the soup pot separately.
- Blend until completely smooth and frothy. You want absolutely no gritty pieces of cashew remaining.
- Sauté the diced onion. In a large pot, heat either a splash of vegetable broth or if not oil-free, a little olive oil until warm. Once hot, add in the diced yellow onion and stir until soft and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the potatoes, corn, kale, and spices.
- Add in the chowder cream base. Stir well to combine.
- Bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium low, add the lid and allow the vegan corn chowder to simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the chowder has thickened and potatoes are fork tender, and easily pierced with a knife with no resistance.
- Serve. Ladle cups of the soup into individual serving bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings. I recommend red chili flakes for a little kick, green onion, vegan tempeh bacon, or even a piece of crusty bread with vegan butter to make this easy soup recipe extra hearty.
How do you thicken soup without dairy?
The starches in the gold potatoes will thicken this vegan corn chowder soup naturally. No slurries of corn starch or flour rouxs needed here!
What made my soup grainy?
If you over cook the potatoes or the vegan corn chowder in general, it can start to become grainy. Just cook the chowder enough until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork and remove from heat.
My chowder didn’t thicken. What did I do wrong?
When you first begin simmering this chowder it may look like too much liquid. And if you don’t cook it for long enough, it will likely be thin, like a milky soup broth. Be sure to cook the chowder for the full 25-30 minutes on a medium-low heat for ultra thick and creamy chowder soup texture. The potatoes need time to release their starches to thicken the chowder naturally.
I only have canned coconut milk. Can I use it?
Full fat canned coconut milk is far richer and higher in fat than refrigerated or shelf stable versions of coconut milk and would make this corn chowder too rich and extremely high in saturated fats. If using canned, full fat coconut milk is your only option, I would go with 1 (15.5 ounce) can of full fat coconut milk and 2 cups of water to balance it out. Or two cans of lite coconut milk will likely be fine.
- Before pouring a store-bought milk into your chowder or savory dish, smell it and taste it! An increasing number of store-bought unsweetened vegan milks are being made with a sweet, perfume like preservative that completely defeats the purpose of the milk being unsweetened. If it tastes or smells at all sweet, it will ruin the flavor of your savory chowder. Steer clear of Safeway’s Organics line as well as the Whole Foods Generic Brand of unsweetened milks. They all have this issue.
- When in doubt, make your own vegan milk at home! I bought an Almond Cow for making vegan milks at home without additives or preservatives and it’s been worth every penny. Check out their post on making homemade vegan coconut milk (just leave out the vanilla extract and dates for homemade corn chowder). There are also several guides out there teaching you how to make your own vegan milk in a blender.
- Cook this vegan corn chowder low and slow. This delicious hearty soup needs the time to thicken properly. If you cook it on too high of heat, you are going to cook the potatoes through too quickly and the consistency of the soup will be thin.
More Vegan Soups You May Enjoy
- Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1 Pot Vegan Pumpkin Soup
- Vegan Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
- Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup
The Best Vegan Corn Chowder Recipe
- 1 yellow onion - diced
- 4 cups gold potatoes - chopped
- 1 ½ cups white sweet corn - frozen
- 1 ½ cups kale - frozen
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon sea salt - to taste
- Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in hot water for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes drain the cashews and add to the Vitamix or other high speed blender along with the coconut milk, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and miso paste. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Note: This usually fills my Vitamix blender jar up to the very top, so if your blender is a lot smaller, I would omit the plant-milk and add it to the stock pot separately.
- In a pot over medium heat, sauté the diced onion in a tablespoon of oil or splash of broth until translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, frozen corn, frozen kale, salt, parsley and garlic powder. Stir to combine.
- Next, add in the cashew cream mixture from the Vitamix, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat slightly, add the lid and continue simmering for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.
- Serve immediately and top with optional green onion, vegan bacon bits and vegan cheese. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to three days.
- Full fat, canned coconut milk is going to make this chowder too rich. If it’s all you have, I recommend using 1 (15.5 ounce can) of full fat coconut milk and 2 cups of water. Or 2 (15.5 ounce cans) of lite coconut milk will work.
- Do not use oat milk in this recipe. It is too naturally sweet, even if the container says it is unsweetened.
- The potatoes will naturally thicken up this soup. No slurries required!
- If you overcook the soup, it could become grainy. Cook just until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published April 20, 2020 and was updated on March 8, 2021 to include new recipe photos, step by step process photos, an ingredients photo, FAQs, expert tips, and an improved written recipe.