It’s those warm, lazy, hazy days of mid-summer when sweet corn and juicy tomatoes are at their peak.
What to do with all this delicious summer bounty?
Make corn chowder, of course!
I know, I know. Corn chowder is not something one thinks of as vegan, what with the butter, the cream, and often, the cheese. (Paula Deen’s corn chowder recipe calls for two entire sticks of butter and two cups of half-and-half!) Heck, usually corn chowder is not even vegetarian, since many cooks give it a chicken broth base and bacon crumbles on top! And gluten-sensitive people need to watch for the large amounts of wheat flour lurking in the chowder.
But it is indeed possible to make a lower fat, lower calorie, vegan corn chowder that is still rich and creamy and full of flavor. In fact, without the “masking flavors” of all the fat and dairy, the summery taste of the corn really shines!
- 3-4 ears Fresh Corn. (The corn absolutely must be fresh, not frozen.)
- 1 large Onion, diced
- 2 large cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
- 2-3 Green Thai Chili Peppers, cut as small as possible, or 1 jalapeno
- 3-4 ripe, juicy Tomatoes (Roma or other small tomato), diced
- 2 TBL Earth Balance buttery spread
- 3 cups Water
- 2 cups Soy Milk or other unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used Soy Dream)
- 2 TBL Cornstarch
- 1 heaping teaspoon Ground Roasted Cumin
- 1 scant teaspoon Curry Powder
- 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
- Boil your corn exactly as you would if you were making corn on the cob. When corn is done, remove from water and let the corn cool. (Don’t throw out the cooking water – keep 2-3 cups in reserve!) When the corn is cool enough to handle, stand the corn on end in a bowl and scrape the kernels off with a knife.
- In a large pot, melt a tablespoon of Earth Balance. Add the onions, garlic, and peppers and saute over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes, until the onion starts to turn translucent. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Add three cups of water (you can use the water the corn was boiled in). Stir. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir. Add the corn, tomatoes, cumin, curry powder, salt, and nutritional yeast. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and let simmer 10 minutes. Don’t bother tasting it at this point – the flavors will be very strong, as it only has about half as much liquid as the finished chowder.
- Add a pat of Earth Balance – at least a teaspoon. If you are using a more “watery” faux milk – rice milk is much thinner than soy milk – you may want to add up to tablespoon of Earth Balance, and perhaps just a pinch more cornstarch.
- Once the Earth Balance melts, add your faux milk. Warm the soup back up on low heat but be careful not to let it come to a boil – that can do strange things to faux milk. Add more salt if needed and a grind or two of black pepper to taste. As soon as the soup is hot again, it’s ready to eat.
- This soup can be made a day in advance – it tastes even better after sitting in the refrigerator overnight.
- It’s also wonderful served cold on a hot day!
- This chowder takes a little time to make – but only because of the time spent boiling the corn and waiting for it to be cool enough to handle. Otherwise, it comes together pretty quickly! You could always boil and scrape the corn in advance, or use that time to prep your onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
- Don’t get crazy with the curry powder. You should only taste a hint of curry powder in the finished chowder. The purpose is to add a bit of complexity to the chowder, not overpower the taste of the corn. The fresh corn should be the star of the show.
- You can, of course, use your favorite cooking oil instead of Earth Balance. I typically use olive oil for just about everything, but in this case I just really like the buttery flavor with the corn. I highly encourage you to try it that way.
- Earth Balance also comes in a soy-free version for those sensitive to soy.
- Currently in Charlotte, none of the mainstream grocery stores (Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, etc.) carry Thai green chilies. You’ll need to go to an Indian grocery (my favorite, as always, is India Grocers – one location in Pineville and one in the University Area) or an Asian market. I highly recommend the green chillies, but you can substitute a jalapeno pepper.
- Some people like potatoes in their corn chowder. I do, too, but in the autumn, when I long for heartier soups. In the heat of summer I like to keep my soups and chowders light and refreshing.