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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali See what I'm eating this week

Creamy Corn and Quinoa Chowder

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It has been so cold in the Bay Area lately! Well, cold for the Bay Area that is (30-40 degrees). And because of that I’ve been making a lot of soups.

One soup in particular that the husband and I both love is this Corn and Quinoa Chowder. Corn Chowder is one of the husband’s favorite soups, but I never eat more than 2 bites of it because the traditional recipe (made with butter, cream, milk) is way too heavy for me.

I had been looking for a healthier version for a long time when I came across this Vegetarian Times recipe. I’ve made quite a few modifications to it to give it more depth of flavor (I found the Vegetarian Times version as-is to be too bland) – but it was a great base and inspiration for this soup!

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What makes this corn chowder healthier?

No cream or butter, for starters. Tons of fresh veggies to give it a nice bite, and quinoa – the secret star ingredient for texture and protein. Unsweetened, organic, plain soymilk gives it a creamy taste without the extra fat and calories (and trust me, the soup doesn’t even have a hint of soy flavor – it’s amazing!)

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The Ingredients

Adapted from Vegetarian Times

  • 3/4 cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained  
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or organic canola oil
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (I used EarthBound Farm’s Organic Frozen Corn – each kernel was so sweet and delicious, it tasted fresh!)
  • 1 large red potato, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 small shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups plain, unsweetened, organic soymilk (I used WestSoy)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 Tbs. chopped cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • Lime wedges
  • 1/2-1 tsp cumin powder (I’d suggest adding 1/2 tsp, stirring and only adding more if you feel it needs more cumin flavor)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (to taste, depending on how spicy you like things)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

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The Directions

Step 1: Toast quinoa and cumin seeds in pot over medium-high heat, 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden and fragrant, stirring constantly. Transfer to bowl.

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Step 2: Heat oil in pot; add corn, potato and shallots. Sauté 5 minutes, or until shallots are translucent.

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Step 3: Add broth and soymilk and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa mixture and all spices (cumin powder through black pepper). Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

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Step 4: Stir in bell pepper, cover and simmer 5 minutes, or until quinoa and vegetables are tender. Remove from heat; stir in chopped cilantro.

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Step 5: Ladle into soup bowls, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges (squeeze lime juice into soup and stir before eating).

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One HUGE bowl of this chowder only has ~250 calories, 8g protein and 5g fiber. It’s also vegan and gluten-free (but it doesn’t taste like it!)

The husband totally validated how creamy the soup tasted – “just like regular corn chowder,” he said. I loved the combination of flavors with the cumin, cilantro, lime, and slight hint of heat from the crushed red pepper. Absolutely delicious.

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Creamy Corn and Quinoa Chowder

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 253

Calories per serving: 7g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 253 Calories, 7g Fat, 378mg Sodium, 44g Carbs, 8g Protein, 5g Fiber, 1g Sugar

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or organic canola oil
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (I used EarthBound Farm's Organic Frozen Corn)
  • 1 large red potato, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 small shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups plain, unsweetened, organic soymilk (I used WestSoy)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 Tbs. chopped cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • Lime wedges
  • 1/2-1 tsp cumin powder (I'd suggest adding 1/2 tsp, stirring and only adding more if you feel it needs more cumin flavor)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (to taste, depending on how spicy you like things)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Toast quinoa and cumin seeds in pot over medium-high heat, 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden and fragrant, stirring constantly. Transfer to bowl.
  2. Heat oil in pot; add corn, potato and shallots. Sauté 5 minutes, or until shallots are translucent.
  3. Add broth and soymilk and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa mixture and all spices (cumin powder through black pepper). Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in bell pepper, cover and simmer 5 minutes, or until quinoa and vegetables are tender. Remove from heat; stir in chopped cilantro.
  5. Ladle into soup bowls, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges (squeeze lime juice into soup and stir before eating).

Notes

Adapted from Vegetarian Times

http://www.pickyeaterblog.com/creamy-healthy-corn-and-quinoa-chowder/

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65 responses to “Creamy Corn and Quinoa Chowder”

    • Awesome!! I think navy beans could probably work in this soup. If you do decide to add them, I’d recommend decreasing the quinoa amount a bit (maybe to about 1/3 or 1/2 cup depending on how much of the beans you add) – so the soup doesn’t get too thick. Let me know how it turns out!

  1. This looks really creamy and delicious. Can you taste the soy milk in the soup? I’ve been making a few quinoa soups and I really like it since quinoa is so much healthier than pasta.

    • So, the amazing thing is – you can’t taste the soy milk in the soup at ALL! Just make sure you get the unsweetened, unflavored one. It just gives the soup an amazing, creamy texture without adding all of the fat/etc of regular cream. And totally agree with you about quinoa – its such a great substitute!

  2. Hi Anjali,
    I’m glad to have found your blog via LinkedIn. I’ve been looking for a good quinoa recipe and this one looks delish — can’t wait to try it out, especially since my husband, who is a big meat-eater (but who I’ve gotten to eat more meatless meals — triumph! :-)), loves corn chowder.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Stephanie! 🙂 Let me know how you and your husband like this soup once you make it. My husband used to be a big meat-eater too – and he thought the soup was super hearty so I think this recipe definitely works for all types of foodies 🙂

  3. This quinoa chowder looks absolutely amazing, it’s so creamy and I’m sure very yummy too.
    I’ll definitely give this recipe a go.
    I eat meat too but I love soups like this. I tried different brands of soy milk but not a big fan:(

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

    Naomi

    • Thanks for your comment! Let me know how it turns out for you. I’m not a huge fan of soy milk either – but you can’t even taste this one in the soup (I got it from Trader Joe’s). Love your blog btw – I’m always looking for more recipes to make with quinoa!

  4. Thanks for the recipe 🙂 It’s on the stove for tonight! Whenever I’m in the bulk foods aisle at my grocery store I’m faced with the decision between regular quinoa, red, or mixed! Do you notice a difference in flavour? I usually buy for the interest of colour but I wonder if there’s more to it!

    • Awesome!! I can’t wait for you to try it 🙂 So there are slight differences between red, black and white quinoa (but not major ones). White quinoa has the softest texture of the three, while red or black maintain a more firm “crunchy” texture when cooked. Black quinoa also has a slightly more earthy flavor than the other two varieties. Hope that helps!

    • Thanks Rekha! I’d be interested to hear how it tastes with coconut milk – keep me posted on how it turns out!

  5. I am eating this right now. It has such a delicious flavor. I only had red quinoa and coconut milk and I didn’t have limes so I used lime juice from a bottle but it’s still really good. I imagine it would be a little bit creamier with white quinoa and a little less broth-like if I used soy milk instead of coconut milk. But it’s really good and I look forward to making it again when I have all of the ingredients on hand. This soup has my name written all over it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh great! I’m glad the substitutions turned out well for you 🙂 You’re right, I think the soy milk will make it more creamy — since when it heats up it gets a little bit thicker. So glad you liked this recipe Ashley!

  6. Hi Anjali,
    I will be making this chowder for dinner tonight! Can’t wait to try it and I’m so glad to have found your blog. I am always looking for healthy, vegetarian meals to prepare with my family and this looks like a winner! I am looking forward to exploring your blog!

    • Oh awesome! It’s so great to “meet” you Laura! I can’t wait to hear how you and your family like this recipe 🙂 Keep me posted as you explore more of the recipes on my blog!

  7. Hi Anjali,
    Thank you for welcoming me to your site! My family LOVES this chowder! I followed the recipe almost exactly (just used frozen fire roasted corn instead of plain sweet corn) and it is just delicious! Even though the recipe made a pretty good sized pot of chowder, there is just enough leftover for tomorrow’s lunch! We all had second helpings of this hearty soup. I used the Whole Foods 365 brand of plain, unsweetened soy milk and my picky husband has no idea that the chowder does not contain milk. He didn’t ask so I’m not telling!

    • P.S. Looks like part of my reply was omitted…I must be too wordy! I wanted to add that the addition of freshly squeezed lime made all the flavors come alive. I am looking forward to trying more of your family friendly recipes. Thank you!

      • Awww that is so great to hear!! I’m so happy you and your family loved this recipe. My husband couldn’t tell that the chowder didn’t contain milk either — isn’t it fun when healthy swaps work out so well? 🙂 Thanks for letting me know! Keep me posted on how the rest of my recipes turn out for you!

  8. Made this last night and first, let me say, the soup was delicious. Just a few comments. We followed the recipe with the exception being that we used chicken broth (low sodium) versus vegetable broth. We also added an extra cup of frozen corn (mostly just to finish off the bag.) When it was all said and done, my boyfriend and I both found it a little bland. We ended up adding more salt, pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes. We also added a few drops of a smoky chili sauce for some extra depth. Obviously, some of this is a matter of preference but I figured I’d throw that out there. We served it to guests and everyone loved it. 🙂 Also, I thought it was one of the best “chowders” I’ve ever had… and I am usually not too keen on chowder recipes. My boyfriend (who loves them!) said that while the soup was great, it was less chowder-like than most (mostly due to the lack of milk) and so it wasn’t a true chowder. This of course, is why I liked it as much as I did.

    • Hi Valerie! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I’m so glad you liked this recipe! Since you added the extra corn, it makes sense that the existing seasoning amounts in my recipe weren’t enough. Because the extra corn definitely would need more seasoning to compensate for it! But I’m glad you modified it – love the idea of adding smoky chili sauce to it too 🙂 Thanks again!

  9. This is delicious. My husband asked that it be added to the list of dinners we have on regular rotation- his biggest compliment! I forgot the lime at the end and it was wonderful anyway. One thing – Quinoa doesn’t settle on my stomach well (no matter how much I rinse it). Any suggestions for something else I can use instead?

    • Woohoo! So glad you and your husband liked this recipe Angela! So sorry to hear that quinoa doesn’t work well for you — I’d substitute brown rice for it instead. Hope that helps, let me know how it works out!

  10. Hi there, Just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe – it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made! I have been trying to find some tasty healthy-vegan meals and this definitely qualifies. My husband said it was fancy and had complex flavor – 2 compliments I’ve never gotten on my food before. This was the first time I toasted quinoa, and it popped like popcorn a little bit, which kinda freaked me out, but all ended up well. I also couldn’t find cumin seeds, so I just used the 1 teaspoon of cumin and the flavors seemed to work really well. Thanks for posting one of my new favorite recipes! YUM

    • Omg that is so great to hear Karyn! Sounds like you made this recipe like a pro – nice job! 🙂 So glad you and your husband liked this recipe so much, thanks for letting me know!

  11. Hi! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I was just wondering you say it makes 6 servings – could you tell me what volume or weight a single serving is equal to? Thanks!

    • Hi Alexandra! My guess is one serving is about 1-1.5 cups of the soup. I’ve never measured it out exactly, but my suggestion would just be to divide the soup into 6 equal portions and then you’ll be able to get exactly 1/6 of the soup! Hope that helps!

  12. This soup is so simple yet so delicious!!!!! My whole family loved it. My sister-in-law requested the recipe too. Thank you for the wonderful recipes on your blog!!

  13. Made this tonight but used Coconut Milk instead of Soymilk (I am allergic to soy, or it probably would have been thicker, so I added a little cornstarch). It was delicious! I did forget the lime at the end (And I had cut it and everything!) but I’ll remember it for when I have leftovers tomorrow. Thanks! I’ve directed people to this post now because I posted mine on FB and had requests for the recipe.

    • Aw thanks so much for letting me know Ashley! I like coconut milk as a substitution for soy – I could see it tasting just as good 🙂 Have fun eating the leftovers today!

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