This thick and creamy vegan potato corn chowder is made without any added oil or wheat. It’s WFPB compliant, only requires 12 ingredients and needs just 20 minutes of prep time. It’s the perfect weeknight soup when you’re craving something healthy yet hearty. Have this chowder 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 thick and creamy soup full of hearty potatoes and vegetables.
This corn chowder is inspired by a vegan potato soup I had in Maui, Hawaii at a restaurant called Monkeypod. They used fresh coconut milk in their chowder and it was so rich and creamy 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. 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 isn’t necessary.
- No processed vegan cheese. Nutritional yeast and cashews give this corn chowder a cheesy undertone without the need for dairy or any store-bought vegan cheese substitutes. Whole foods only!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- 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! Use what you’ve got!
- Potatoes – I prefer gold potatoes in this chowder. They make this soup extra hearty and naturally thicken it!
- Kale and Corn – I usually opt for frozen kale and frozen corn when making homemade chowder because it’s quick and easy to use as it’s what I normally have on hand. If you have fresh corn or kale, that will work great as well!
Step by Step Instructions
Most of the time needed to make this corn chowder is spent with the chowder simmering on it’s own. Getting it prepped and in the pot is super quick and easy!
- Make the chowder cream base: Add the soaked cashews, plant-milk, 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 stock pot separately.
- Blend until completely smooth and frothy. You want absolutely no gritty pieces of cashew remaining.
- Saute the diced onion in a large stockpot until soft and translucent.
- Add in the potatoes, corn, kale, and spices.
- Add in the chowder cream base.
- Give the corn chowder a good stir and bring to simmer! Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium low, add the lid and allow the chowder to simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the chowder has thickened and potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.
The starches in the gold potatoes will thicken this vegan corn chowder soup naturally. No slurries of corn starch or flour rouxs needed here!
If you over cook the potatoes or the 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.
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.
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. 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.
- If you have a blender smaller than the Vitamix, leave the milk out when blending together the chowder cream base and add it to the chowder separately.
- 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. It 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
- Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1 Pot Vegan Pumpkin Soup
- Vegan Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
- Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup
Vegan Potato Corn Chowder
- 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.
- 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.
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
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.