Creamy and fresh summer corn chowder loaded with seasonal corn and zucchini! This lightened up chowder is made with fresh sweet corn from the cob, no flour, and half and half.

It serves amazing on its own or with a side of our Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Summer Corn Chowder

This fresh sweet corn and zucchini chowder is summer in a bowl! Made with sweet corn from the cob, zucchini, celery, carrots, onions, and potatoes. It’s a veggie-packed soup that is not only tasty but so good for you.

I took the idea of traditional corn chowder and loaded it up with more veggies, cut out the flour completely, and instead of heavy cream, used half and half to lighten it up.

You get the same scrumptious creamy taste, double the veggies, with a bit of smokiness from the bacon and without the heaviness of traditional corn chowder!

How Do You Thicken Corn Chowder?

The key to creating thick and creamy healthy corn chowder without the added flour or heavy cream is puréeing some of the chowder. It creates the best consistency without the added ingredients.

You basically take about two cups of cooked chowder and purée it until smooth in a blender or food-processor, then stir the mixture back into the chowder.

close up summer corn chowder in a bowl

Ingredients

You will need the following ingredients to make this corn chowder:

  • Butter
  • Bacon
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Spices – dried thyme and bay leaf
  • Potatoes
  • Water or veggie stock
  • Fresh sweet corn
  • Zucchini
  • Half and half
ingredients for summer corn chowder

Substitutions

What’s great about this corn chowder is that you can make a handful of substitutions to suit your taste or diet needs without compromising the overall taste of the chowder.

  • Bacon: Omitting bacon? Add 1 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika or southwest seasoning blend with smoked paprika in it in Step 2. It will give the chowder a smoky flavor. 
  • Spices: Don’t have dried bay leaf? No worries, you can completely omit it. For dried thyme, you can substitute with 2 teaspoons of fresh minced thyme.
  • Potatoes: For the russet potatoes, red potatoes or baby gold potatoes can be used. If using baby golds, you don’t even have to peel them. Simply scrub really well and dice.  Also, a handful of our readers have used cauliflower in place of potatoes for a low-carb option.
  • Water: Vegetable stock or chicken stock work great for this chowder.
  • Corn: Frozen corn can be used. No need to cook it or defrost it first.
  • Half and Half: For a non-dairy option, canned coconut milk works great. You’ll need full-fat (not lite) unsweetened coconut milk. Some readers also tried plain milk, which will definitely work but the chowder will not be as creamy.
fresh corn in a bowl

How to Make Summer Corn Chowder

  • Step 1: Melt butter over medium heat in a dutch oven. Add bacon and cook until bacon renders its fat and begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Step 2: Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme; cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring couple times, about 5 minutes.
  • Step 3: Add potatoes, water, and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat back to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are halfway cooked.
  • Step 4: Add zucchini and corn; season with salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for an additional 8-12 minutes or until the vegetables are completely tender.
  • Step 5: Discard the bay leaf. Transfer 2 cups of chowder to a food processor or blender; purée until smooth. Stir the mixture back into the pot. Add half and half and cook just until heated through. 
step by step instructions on how to make summer corn chowder recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to cook the corn first?

No. If using fresh corn, simply cut it off the cob and add to the chowder. If substituting frozen corn, no need to thaw it out or cook it first.

What if I don’t have a food-processor?

Blender works great too. Just be careful adding hot chowder to the blender. Work in batches if need to. And if you don’t have either one, a simple potato masher will get the job done. It will just require a little work on your part.

Can it be made in a crockpot?

Here’s what our reader Nichole writes: “The key with this kind of recipe is to know your veggies. Notice how the corn and zucchini where added later… I will be making this and doing it on low for 4- 6hrs. Basically, I’ll add the corn and zucchini the last hour or half-hour (depends on how hot your crockpot is) of cooking time and the coconut milk (half and half if you’re using it) when I’m ready to turn it off. Just stir it in quickly put the lid on for another 10-15 min and done (crocks are hot so the leftover heat will heat up the milk just fine).”

How long does corn chowder last?

3-4 days refrigerated in an airtight container. I find that it even tastes better the next day (just like chili).

Can it be frozen?

Normally I would say no as soups with cream and/or milk usually do not freeze well, however, some of my readers had success with freezing this chowder. My biggest tip would be to reheat the chowder on the stovetop over medium-low heat so the cream does not separate.

corn chowder with zucchini

What to Serve with Corn Chowder

fresh corn chowder in a bowl

More Fresh Corn Recipes

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close up summer corn chowder in a bowl

Summer Corn Chowder

  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: One-Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Creamy chowder loaded with fresh corn and zucchini is the best summer food! This lightened up chowder is made with fresh corn from the cob, no flour, and half and half.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion, about 1/2 large onion
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped (1/3 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled + chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 medium (1 lb.) russet potatoes, peeled, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 cups water (or veggie stock)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ears of sweet fresh corn, husk + silk removed and kernels cut from cob (2 3/4 cup corn)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch cubes, (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
  • Cayenne pepper, to serve, optional

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy-duty bottom stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon renders its fat and begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme; cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring couple times, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes, water, and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat back to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are halfway cooked.
  4. Add zucchini and corn; season with salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for additional 8-12 minutes or until the vegetables are completely tender.
  5. Discard the bay leaf and then transfer 2 cups of chowder to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Stir the mixture back into the pot. Add half and half and cook just until heated through. Taste for salt and pepper.
  6. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley and sprinkle of cayenne pepper, optional.

Notes

  • Substitutions: For a detailed list of all substitutions, see the recipe post.
  • FAQ: I originally shared this recipe in 2016 and have since updated the post to include all frequently asked questions. If there is something I missed, please ask in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer.
  • To Make it Vegan: replace butter with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, replace bacon with 1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika or even better some type of southwest seasoning blend that has smoked paprika in it, such as this one (affiliate link). Lastly, replace the half and half with 1 cup full-fat unsweetened coconut milk (make sure to shake the can first). To make these substitutions, you would first heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the veggies (step 2), plus the smoked paprika. Cook until veggies are soft. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as written. If you need further clarification, please ask in the comments.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 189
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Sodium: 131.2 mg
  • Fat: 8.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Protein: 5.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 13.2 mg

Keywords: corn soup, summer, seasonal, meatless chowder