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Southwestern Corn Chowder

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This creamy corn chowder is perfect when nights turn cool and for using up the last corn of the season.

Southwestern Corn Chowder

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

I think of this corn chowder from my new cookbook as a summer-into-fall soup, perfect for when the nights turn cooler and you’re looking for new and interesting ways to use up the last corn of the season. Blending some of the kernels with the broth gives the soup a sweet corn flavor and lightly creamy texture. It’s filling on its own, but if you’d like to bulk it up, crispy bacon, shredded chicken, grilled shrimp or fresh lump crabmeat would all be delicious additions. And you can never go wrong with chips and guacamole or quesadillas on the side.

What you’ll need to make southwestern corn chowder

corn chowder ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

melting butter in Dutch oven

Add the onions, bell pepper, and jalapeño to the pot.  

onion and peppers in pot

Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown.

softened onion and pepper

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

adding flour to vegetables

Add the broth, 1 cup of the milk, salt, cumin, coriander, and potatoes; bring to a boil. 

adding broth, milk, potatoes and seasoning to pot

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring once halfway through, until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the remaining milk with 1 cup of the corn until smooth.

blended milk and corn

Add the milk and corn mixture to the soup along with the remaining corn.

adding corn puree and fresh corn to chowder

Simmer until hot.

simmering corn chowder

Off the heat, stir in the sour cream, scallions, and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. 

adding scallions, cilantro, and sour cream to corn chowder

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with lime wedges.

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Southwestern Corn Chowder

This creamy corn chowder is perfect when nights turn cool and for using up the last corn of the season.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, and finely diced (save the seeds and ribs; see note)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 pound yellow, red or purple baby potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels, scraped from 4 to 5 raw cobs (see note)
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 3 scallions, dark green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving


  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, and jalapeño and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  2. Add the broth, 1 cup of the milk, salt, cumin, coriander, and potatoes; bring to a boil. The soup will seem thick; that’s okay. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring once halfway through so the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes (if your potatoes are not tender at this point, just continue simmering until they are).
  3. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the remaining 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of the corn until smooth.
  4. Add the milk and corn mixture to the soup along with the remaining 2 cups of corn; simmer until hot. Off the heat, stir in the sour cream, scallions, and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with lime wedges.
  5. Note: I like this soup a little spicy, so I mince about half of the jalapeño’s seeds and ribs and toss them in with the onions and peppers. If you’d like more control over the heat, you can add cayenne pepper at the end, to taste, or offer hot sauce at the table.
  6. Note: To scrape the corn from the cobs, place the corn on a clean dish towel set over a cutting board, then use a serrated knife to cut the kernels of the cobs. (The dish towel prevents the kernels from bouncing all over the place.) Alternatively, you can invert a small bowl inside a larger bowl. Hold the cob upright on top of the inverted small bowl, with the flatter end of the cob down, and use a sharp knife to slice downward as close to the cob as possible.
  7. Make-ahead Instructions: Before adding the sour cream, scallions, and cilantro, the soup can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat, and proceed with the recipe.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 540
  • Fat: 23 g
  • Saturated fat: 12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 70 g
  • Sugar: 16 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Protein: 15 g
  • Sodium: 1,339 mg
  • Cholesterol: 56 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Hi Jenn – made this once and absolutely loved it! My husband has suggested we add baby scallops next time. What do you think? Any thoughts on when we should add them or any other tips? Thanks for all you do!

    • — Monica in Toronto on October 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it! I do think you could add baby scallops; you could either cook them separately and add them in at the end, or add them in, uncooked, when you add the corn and milk mixture, and just simmer until the scallops are cooked through.

      • — Jenn on October 3, 2023
      • Reply
  • This soup is delicious! I made it twice in one week when corn was in. For me, this is my go to corn chowder now. My only differences are I add more jalapeno and I puree all of the corn in the food processor. Just my preference for a smoother soup. A must make soup!!

    • — Michelle on September 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Well, I hit the farm stand yesterday and got corn, peppers, and potatoes and thought, I can make Jenn’ s corn chowder now.
    Just finished making it and it is luscious. I added a shredded chicken breast that I cooked in my small crockpot yesterday. Wonderful fresh flavors in this chowder, and it came together in a snap-the chopping took longer than the cooking. Thanks for another great recipe!

    • — Grandma on August 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • In Arizona we can’t wait for a cool night to try this so we did today! OUTSTANDING! I followed directions exactly then added 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika to give it a little smokiness! Thanks for this excellent recipe I will be sharing!

    • — Maryanne Donahoe on August 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious! I made this for my family last night…everyone LOVED it!! It is not spicy, but has a nice corn flavor with some smokiness in the background. HIGHLY recommend. Super easy, and a crowd pleaser.

    • — Amy on August 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • Do you think parsley would be an okay substitute for the cilantro? Not a fan of cilantro. Thanks. Love your recipes.

    • — Kathy Bedard on August 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure – I’d go with flat-leaf parsley. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • I loved the soup and I would like to share something I found very useful: I put a bundt pan onto a cookie sheet open end up. Then I place the fat end of the corn cob on to the inside hole of the bundt pan, slicing the corn kernels off so they fall into the bundt pan.

    • — Danielle on August 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious, thank you. I puréed the onion, bell pepper and jalapeño with an immersion blender when they were softened because my daughter recently had surgery and needed things as smooth as possible. I also used 4 oz. softened cream cheese because that’s what I had instead of sour cream. Lovely recipe. I will make again.

    • — Mom24 on August 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi! Making this tomorrow and was planning to add shrimp. You mention grilled shrimp, but, given how fast shrimp cook, do you think you could just throw them in with the corn at the end and let the heat of the chowder cook them? Thanks!

    • — Jeanne on May 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Jeanne, I think that would be fine. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on May 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Gday from Oz. Fantastic meal. I made the beef stew last night and this just now. Creamy, corn was crunchy and sweet and the whole dish was a hit with the family. Will try to add some jalapeño seeds and pith next time to add a bit more kick. Had the sriracha sauce at the end. Thanks so much. Looking forward to ordering a cook book!

    • — Ben on May 7, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was excellent as everyone else says. I did need to cook the potatoes longer. The fresh corn is key as it adds that hint of sweetness. I didn’t add any protein…it didn’t need it. A nice meet free alternative.

    • — Nanci on May 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi. Are the potatoes supposed to be peeled? Also, opinion on a softer potato vs a red potato? Thanks.

    • — Karen Goebel on February 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Karen, You do not need to peel the potatoes, and both kinds will work well here.

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is now the soup that my husband measures all other soups by. It is sooo good! We eat low-fat vegan, so I sauteed in water instead of butter, used soymilk and omitted the sour cream. I added lime juice directly to the soup and served with avocado chunks. I make a double batch, so we will be sure to have leftovers. Yummy!

    • — Rita on January 22, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is our family’s absolute favorite corn chowder – even the one who prefers smoother veggie soups loves it. (In fact, she is the one who requests it.) My only additions/modifications: I end up using half-n-half as that’s what we usually have in the house, and I always end up using more potatoes and corn (as that’s how they are packaged in my grocery store) and adjust the liquid accordingly. Plus we get more chowder this way!

    • — Aimee on December 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • A nice spin on the classic corn chowder I grew up on. The flavors are amazing!

    • — Steph on October 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can you freeze this or make beforehand?

    • — Ariane on October 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ariane, I wouldn’t recommend freezing it, but you can make it ahead. See the bottom of the recipe for full Make-Ahead guidance. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious!!! I’ve already recommended it to my bestie!!! Thank you for all your amazing recipes!

    • — Christene on September 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer-
    Thank you again for another amazing recipe!! I had some corn I needed to use up and went to look for recipes on your website and saw this! I cooked boneless skinless chopped chicken thighs, took it out, then started the recipe. I also used oat milk and worked very well! The combo of southwestern spices, lime and corn is delicious. This will be in my repertoire from now on!

    • — Liz Whitehead on September 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Oh my comfort food to the rescue at end of fresh corn season and the beginning of cooler temps Never disappointed in what you concoct, Super warming plus satisfying and will save for future corn season.

      • — Marsha on September 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • It’s Olathe (CO) sweet corn season, so this was a perfect time to try this recipe. Made as described with the exception of using half and half instead of milk, along with the addition of a shredded rotisserie Cornish game hen. And of course, it was excellent! Next time I’ll stick with milk as using half and half made the chowder too thick (though still delicious!). I have never had a bad recipe from O.U.A.C. Thanks as always, Jenn.

    • — John M. on August 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was an amazing soup, and quick to make. I used 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cup of 2% and it was still plenty rich. I’ll probably use all 2% in the future, as it is what I generally have on hand. So flavorful. Don’t miss adding the lime – I was surprised at how much brightness it brought!

    • — Cait on July 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight—very good! I didn’t have an onion so did without and it came out fine. We added canned lump crab and that was a nice addition. Otherwise made just as described and it’s now a “keeper!”

    Oh, and great tip about using a tea towel when cutting the kernels off the cob. That will stick with me now! Thank you!

    • — Cristina on July 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • This soup is just wonderful! Easy to make and so good!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • — Carole Bruno on July 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn. I have a large tub of whole milk Greek yogurt. I saw that one of the reviewers mentioned using Greek yogurt, but I wanted “the chef’s” take on how this would taste as a sub for the sour cream. It also adds protein to the soup. What say you?

    • — Pinky on July 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Pinky, It’s perfectly fine to use Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream. They taste very similar. 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • Both of us really like this. You know it has to be really good for my husband to go back for more. He is pretty tough on the food front!

    • — Tish on July 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was easy and delicious!!! I like things spicy so next time I think I’ll add a bit more jalapeno but that’s just personal perference. The recipe is delicious as is!

    • — Christina Mayo on April 4, 2022
    • Reply

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