A simple jalapeño corn chowder is a creamy soup that combines sweet corn with a little heat from jalapeño chiles. It makes an easy vegetarian meal any season of the year.
jalapeño corn chowder is as simple as soup gets
It’s sublime made with garden corn and peppers, but then again, frozen corn and supermarket jalapeños work just fine. Either way this corn chowder is creamy, comforting, and delicious. I’ve been making soups like this all my life, they’re a favorite. I like them with chunks of onion and potato, thick, but not too thick, and definitely cheesy. My Corn and Cheddar Cheese Chowder started it all, back in college when I first started cooking for myself. This one has a decidedly Latin vibe with the chile pepper, cilantro, and a blend of Mexican cheeses.
Chowders are one of the few types of hot soup that are associated with warmer weather. Clam chowder is a coastal summertime classic, and sweet summer corn makes this one perfect for the season, too.
ingredient list for corn chowder
This corn chowder is creamy but not overly rich or stodgy. I use whole milk which gives it a lighter taste and texture than restaurant style chowders.
- corn ~ this can be sliced fresh off the cob, or frozen, either will work. But please do not use canned.
- potatoes ~ I used russets, peeled and diced. I like the way they almost melt into the soup. If you want a firmer bite, use white or yellow waxy potatoes.
- onion ~ I use a large one.
- jalapeño ~ you can dice it or slice it. Leave out the seeds for less heat. Note that individual jalapeños vary in their heat level, so the only way to know for sure how hot yours are is to give them a taste.
- whole milk ~ it keeps this soup lighter than using cream.
- Mexican blend shredded cheese ~ I know you always hear how you should grate your own cheese but honestly, I don’t think it makes a difference here, so save yourself the trouble. Using pre-shredded cheese makes this corn chowder even more weeknight friendly.
- flour ~ just a tablespoon gives the soup body.
- paprika ~ smoked or sweet.
- cilantro ~ fresh only.
- salt and pepper
corn chowder faqs
The downfall of many chowders is that they are too thick and stodgy. That can happen when they contain too much flour, heavy cream, or both. This chowder is just right, using one tablespoon of flour (you can omit for a thinner soup) and whole milk. Chowders thicken as they cool, and you can thin them down with more milk or a little water.
Too much heat is to blame is your chowder curdles. When cooking with milk, you never want it to boil. I bring my chowder up to a simmer and basically turn it off at that point (this is why we cook the potatoes separately.) I let the soup cool for about 10 minutes off the heat before adding the cheese. This will keep everything smooth and silky.
I love to make this with bacon. I use the grease instead of olive oil and butter to sauté the onions, and then crumble it on top just before serving ~ yum!
I don’t recommend freezing milk or cream based soups, they tend to separate and take on a grainy texture when defrosted.
Yes, for sure, make it a day ahead. Let the soup cool before refrigerating. Reheat gently on the stove, or microwave individual bowls.
more chowders to love
- Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Chowder
- Salmon and Corn Chowder
- Finnish Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto)
- Corn and Cheddar Cheese Chowder
- Creamy Ham and Bean Soup
Jalapeño Corn Chowder
- 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp paprika, either sweet or smoked
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 qt (4 cups) whole milk
- 1 lb raw corn kernels, sliced off the cob, or good quality frozen corn. No need to thaw first.
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers, cut in small dice or thinly sliced. Note: use according to your tolerance for heat.
- 2 cups shredded cheese. I used a Mexican cheese blend, but the flavor was mild. Use sharp cheddar for a more pronounced flavor, or any variety you love.
- fresh cilantro
- Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water, add a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let boil until they are tender. Check with the tip of a sharp knife, or taste to test for doneness. Drain.
- Meanwhile heat the oil and butter in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Stir in the paprika, and then the onions. Saute them until softened, 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Stir in the flour, and continue to cook for another minute. Don't let the flour brown. Stir constantly!
- Slowly add the milk, while stirring. I like to warm it in the microwave briefly first so it's slightly warm, this helps it blend in better, but that's optional. When the milk has been completely incorporated, add the corn. drained potatoes, and jalapeños. Stir well.
- Bring the soup up to a gentle boil, then turn the heat way down. Taste and add salt and pepper.
- Take the soup off the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to melt completely. I do this so the heat of the soup doesn't curdle the cheese.
- Serve the soup garnished with cilantro.
- If you love cilantro you can add 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro to the soup just before serving.
- The soup is great the next day, just reheat leftovers gently on the stove or individual bowls in the microwave.