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!
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!)
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
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.
Step 2: Heat oil in pot; add corn, potato and shallots. Sauté 5 minutes, or until shallots are translucent.
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.
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.
Step 5: Ladle into soup bowls, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges (squeeze lime juice into soup and stir before eating).
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.