Vegan southwest corn chowder

Updated: Jan 26

As a chemistry major in college, I used to live in the Physical Sciences Building, and many of my lunches came from the cafe inside - Goldie's. At that time, I was vegetarian but far from vegan, with cheese and cream being two of my favorite food groups. I used to love getting the 'southwest corn chowder' whenever it was available as one of the soups of the day at Goldie's. Chunky, creamy, with a little bit of heat, it was filling and comforting, especially in our upstate New York winters.

Fast forward to now, and I have finally mastered making the perfect vegan version of this soup I used to love. Soup in the summer, though? Yes, especially when you have access to fresh summer sweet corn, which is the star of the show in this soup. There's a fair amount of vegetable prepping for this soup, but after that it comes together quickly, and the results are worth it.

Ingredients (serves 5):

1 tbsp neutral oil

1/2 an onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 medium red-skinned potatoes, diced into about 1/2 inch cubes

4 ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob (you could use 3 cups of frozen corn but I think it's best with fresh)

1/2 can of diced fire roasted tomatoes, or 1 large fresh tomato, chopped

4 cups of vegetable broth (or 4 cups of water with vegetable bouillon)

Salt to taste

3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained, + 3/4 cup water

Chives and soup crackers to garnish

I find the best way to cut corn off of the cob is to place a small bowl upside down inside of a larch bowl, then place the corn on top of the small bowl and slice the kernels off (pictured below). Your corn will fall into the larger bowl.

  1. Add the oil to a large pot or dutch oven on medium heat. When it is hot, saute the onion and peppers until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the spices and garlic are fragrant.

  3. Add the potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and vegetable broth. Bring the heat up to high until the liquid is boiling, then reduce to a simmer on medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Taste for salt.

  4. While the soup is simmering, add your soaked cashews to a blender with 3/4 cup water. Blend on high until you have a very smooth, creamy liquid the consistency of heavy cream.

  5. After about 30 minutes, if the potatoes are tender, add the cashew cream and stir well. At this point, taste a final time for salt. Add the salt a pinch at a time until the flavors sing!

  6. I like to garnish with a bit of reserved cashew cream, chives, and soup nuts.

I hope you enjoy one of my absolute favorite summertime meals!

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