Chowder, anyone? Try a hearty, slightly untraditional, chicken corn chowder. Chock-full of vegetables, this soup is outstanding!

Overhead view of three bowls of chowder (only one fully visible). Chowder is topped with oyster crackers and fresh cilantro.

When I’m thinking comfort food, my thoughts often turn to creamy soups. They just satisfy the stomach and the soul. Chicken corn chowder fills that niche beautifully.

And it is beautiful, isn’t it? Bright green cilantro, deep green poblano, scarlet red bell peppers, brilliant yellow corn, floating dreamily on a creamy background, provide a feast for the eyes, and of course, lots of nutrition, too. 

Right now, take advantage of the abundance of sweet corn that farm markets are offering. Make this chowder with freshly cut corn kernels for a really special treat. But don’t worry, frozen or canned corn are great substitutes. 

You’re going to love this chicken corn chowder. It’s hearty and fresh tasting. With lots of texture, taste, and creaminess, this chowder hits all the sweet spots. In fact, make a double batch. You’re going to want it again tomorrow. (And it reheats beautifully.)

Close up overhead view of chicken corn chowder, in a two-handled bowl, with a spoon.

About this chicken corn chowder:

This recipe for chowder strays a little from a traditional chowder. No seafood or potatoes in chicken corn chowder!  You may find it appeals to a wider audience because it’s not a heavy soup, and the veggies provide so much fresh flavor. It isn’t loaded with cream and cheese so this chowder is good for you, too. 

Bacon. Bacon seems to find its way into my recipes on a frequent basis. It just adds so much flavor. Start this chowder by sautéing bacon until it’s nice and crispy. Set aside the bacon to add later, and reserve the grease.

Next in the pot with the bacon grease goes cubed chicken breast, onions, celery, red bell pepper, and poblano pepper. Sauté until the veggies are softened. So far, so good, right?

This chowder is thickened with a roux.

What is a roux? Simply flour and fat cooked together to thicken sauces, soups, etc.

The fat is already in the pot so add a fourth cup of all-purpose flour. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. The flour will coat the chicken and vegetables. That’s okay.

Next up is chicken broth. Slowly stir a couple cups of broth into the soup. Add a few cups of corn and let the soup simmer for about 15 minutes. 

We’re almost there now. Add a cup and a half of milk, crumbled bacon, and lots of fresh cilantro. Stir until heated and you’re ready to serve your chowder. Total cook time? Right around 30 minutes. Not bad, right?

Time saving tip: Chop the onions, celery, bell pepper, and poblano the night before and put them in a zip top bag in the fridge. 

Serve chicken corn chowder with crackers or cornbread muffins. Fresh fruit or a green salad would be perfect accompaniments.

Corn chowder in a copper bowl, two bowls visible, with a blue and white linen and oyster crackers also pictured.

What makes something a chowder?

First, a little history: Chowder was originally a shipboard soup. Early ocean travelers were served a simple soup of potatoes, onions, salt pork or fish, probably thickened with crumbled hardtack, a cracker-like bread that keeps forever. All of the ingredients could be stored a long period of time without refrigeration, except the fish, which was freshly caught. Early New Englanders continued serving this nutritious and easy meal.

Today’s chowders are usually made with seafood, potatoes, onions, and sweet corn. Often chowders are thickened with a roux, and milk is added to give the soup a creamy consistency. Chowder is usually served with crackers, which can be crumbled into the chowder, if desired. 

What’s the difference between a chowder and a bisque?

While chowder and bisque are both creamy soups, the main difference is that a bisque is puréed or blended until it’s smooth. A chowder is thick with lots of chunky vegetables and meat.  

Three bowls of corn and chicken chowder. Spoons, oyster crackers, and lots of colorful vegetables are pictured.

How to make this soup your own:

Use this recipe as a base and make substitutions as you like. Here a few suggestions:

  • Rather have seafood chowder? Substitute seafood of your choice for the chicken: clams, shrimp, scallops, haddock, etc. or a combination. Keep in mind, cooking time will vary.
  • While this chowder recipe is made with bacon for added flavor, you could omit the bacon if you wish. Sauté the vegetables and chicken in a couple tablespoons of olive oil instead. Try adding some smoked paprika to get that smoky flavor!
  • Make a vegetarian chowder by omitting both the bacon and chicken. Add one pound of cubed potatoes, if desired. Stir the potatoes in with the broth and corn and cook until tender. 
  • For a cheesy chowder, stir in 2 cups shredded cheese just before serving. 

Close up view of a bowl of soup featuring corn, red bell peppers, poblano peppers, chicken, cilantro, and oyster crackers.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Leftover chicken corn chowder can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for three or four days. Reheat gently on the stove or microwave.

Make ahead tip: Prepare the soup as directed, except don’t add the milk and fresh cilantro. Slightly undercook the vegetables. Cool completely and freeze for up to 3 months in freezer containers. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stove. When soup has heated, stir in milk and cilantro. Note: If you’ve added potatoes, don’t freeze the soup because potatoes get mushy when frozen.

More garden soups:

Make the most of summer produce by enjoying one of these delicious soups. Try:

 

Close up overhead view of chicken corn chowder, in a two-handled bowl, with a spoon.

Chicken Corn Chowder (healthy!)

Yield: 7 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Chowder, anyone? Try a hearty, slightly untraditional, chicken corn chowder. Chock-full of vegetables, this soup is outstanding!

Ingredients

  • 6 strips bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups thawed frozen whole kernel corn or fresh corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1½ cups 2% milk

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, keeping grease in the pot.
  2. Add onions, chicken, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, celery, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Slowly add broth while stirring. Add corn. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir in milk, bacon, and cilantro. Leave on low heat to warm through if needed. 
  6. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Make ahead tip: Chop the veggies the night before and store in the fridge.
  • Seafood chowder: Substitute seafood of your choice for the chicken: clams, shrimp, scallops, haddock, etc. or a combination. Reduce cooking time accordingly.
  • Omit the bacon if you wish. Sauté the vegetables and chicken in a couple tablespoons of olive oil instead.
  • Make a vegetarian chowder by omitting both the bacon and chicken. Add one pound of cubed potatoes, if desired. Stir the potatoes in with the broth and corn and cook until tender.
  • Cheesy chowder, stir in 2 cups shredded cheese just before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 534Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 872mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 5gSugar: 16gProtein: 53g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Verdict: So hearty and comforting without being heavy. I love this soup!
Husband’s take: Ben is a fan of anything with bacon.
Changes I would make: None!
Difficulty: Easy!