This healthy Corn and Zucchini Chowder is the perfect summertime soup. Made with sweet summer corn, garden-fresh zucchini, cauliflower, and half-and-half instead of heavy cream, this delicious chowder is hearty, healthy, and super easy to make.
Healthy Corn and Zucchini Chowder Recipe
I love creamy chowdery soups. From yummy clam chowder to bacon and potato chowder, if it has the word chowder in the name, then I’m pretty sure I’ll love it (and probably even ask for seconds). Unfortunately, traditional chowders are usually cream-based and thickened with a roux made from flour and butter. Occasionally, no problem. But my chowder love runs deep, so today, I’m sharing a healthier version of chowder. One I can make and eat anytime, minus the guilt.
Inspired by summer corn and garden-fresh zucchini, this corn and zucchini chowder is so good and so easy to make. I even snuck some shredded chicken in there for extra protein.
Just as delicious and just as creamy as regular chowder recipes, but way better for you!
How to Make Chowder Soup Healthier
- Add less bacon – This chowder only calls for two strips of bacon. Bacon may be delicious, but it’s an easy way to add extra fat and calories. I decided not to cut it out entirely since bacon does add nice flavoring, but 2 strips were more than sufficient.
- Fewer potatoes – Potato often makes up the bulk of many chowders. While there is nothing particularly wrong with the potato, there are healthier, less starchy options to add to your pot (like cauliflower).
- Swap the potatoes for cauliflower – Cauliflower is flavorless, taking onthe flavor of the dish it’s being added to.
- Slip the roux – This means less butter and no flour.
- Use less cream – or use half-and-half instead. That said, I do not recommend using low-fat milk. It’s much too watery.
How to Make Corn and Zucchini Chowder
First, brown the bacon in a large soup pot until it just starts to brown. You may remove the bacon or leave it in the pot (up to you – personal preference) as you soften the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic over medium heat. Stir in the dried thyme. After the veggies have softened (about 5-8 minutes), add the chopped potatoes, cauliflower, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. The potatoes and cauliflower should be fork-tender.
Stir the zucchini and corn into the pot of soup. Cover and continue to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables have softened. Remove the bay leaf before carefully pureeing approximately 3 cups of soup in a high-speed blender or food processor. This is what helps make the chowder thick and creamy.
Meanwhile, return the pureed soup back to the pot. Stir in the cooked and shredded chicken and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Stir in the half-and-half and cook until everything is just heated through.
Serve garnished with fresh parsley, shredded cheese, or Tabasco sauce, if desired.
How to Serve
I love to serve this healthy chowder with buttery bread, a side salad, and a fruit salad for dessert.
Have you tried making this Corn and Zucchini Chowder Recipe? Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Corn and Zucchini Chowder
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 strips bacon - chopped
- 1 large yellow onion - diced
- 3 ribs celery - chopped
- 4 medium carrots - chopped
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 medium russet potato - scrubbed and cubed
- 1 medium head cauliflower - chopped into small pieces or (for smaller bits, grate using a cheese grater)
- 6 cups water/vegetable broth/chicken broth or a mix - plus more if needed
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 medium zucchini - diced into small cubes
- 5 ears fresh sweet corn - husk and silk removed, with kernels cut from cob
- 1 lb cooked boneless skinless chicken breast - shredded, optional
- 1 cup half and half - or whole milk
- salt + black pepper - to taste
- fresh parsley - to garnish
- cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce - to serve, optional
- Melt the butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Cook until the bacon starts to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and thyme. Stir the vegetables with the bacon and bacon grease until coated. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until the vegetables just start to soften, approximately 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped potato, chopped cauliflower, water (or broth), and the bay leaf. Increase heat back to medium high heat. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes and the cauliflower are soft and nearly cooked through.
- Add the zucchini and corn to the soup. Cover and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are fully cooked.
- Remove the bay leaf from the pot and carefully transfer 3 cups of chowder to a food processor or blender; process until pureed. Carefully stir the shredded chicken and pureed chowder back into the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the half and half (or whole milk or heavy cream) and cook until just heated through. Add any additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if desired. For a little heat, sprinkle with cayenne pepper or a dash of Tabasco sauce.
- Leftovers: keep any leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave until heated through. Freezing is not recommended.
- Vegetarian option: Omit the bacon and the chicken, and use water or vegetable stock.
- Is this recipe gluten-free? Yes.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
This soup is amazing! I made it for the first time with my sister-in-law. It was fun to make together. We had company and served it with Jiffy cornbread made with yellow lemon cake mix. A win win combination that everyone praised.
Love this recipe! We make it vegan and use plant based milk and often add a can of white beans. Tonight I sautéed Beyond Sausage and added that to the cooked soup. To save time we also used frozen corn. Delicious!
This was absolutely delicious and easy to make.
Very clear instructions.
Jessica Randhawa says
Thanks for the delicious feedback and rating Christina 🙂
Erin Westgate says
Really bland. Had to get creative and add a bunch of spices for flavor.
Took much longer to prep than 15 minutes. Canned or frozen corn would have been much easier and just as good in a chowder.
Oh, my goodness! This chowder is soooooo yummy! 5+⭐️s! I used frozen cut corn and chicken broth/stock (instead of water). Once I puréed the soup mixture, I didn’t actually need the half-n-half or milk, so I left that out.
I made a large stockpot and will try to freeze half, but I’m not sure how the chowder will hold up to being frozen. The next day, I spooned chowder over prepared rice and we loved that also. This recipe will definitely go into my forever-recipe-keepers. Thanks!
Jessica Randhawa says
Thanks for the kind feedback Pepper 🙂
Hi there, my name is Dom and am from Melbourne, Australia. I have just started using some of your recipes and they are fantastic!
My question is, some recipes have the ingredient or term ‘half and half’.
I have never heard of this before and I have asked around my family and friends and they have never heard of this either.
What is “half and half”?
Jessica Randhawa says
A quick google search showed me that half and half is the equivalent to “single cream” or “double cream”, but to make sure “it has 10-12% milk fat and cannot be whipped.” 🙂
I think its half milk and half cream.
Honestly not a fan.. It was less like chowder and more like semi-blended veggie soup. I couldn’t get past the texture. Healthy though!
Could you use sweet potato instead of russet? And instead of bacon, would chicken skin work?
Jessica Randhawa says
Hi Gabby, both of these substitutions would work great! The taste will be a little sweeter and less salty, but just as delicious 🙂
We made this with the chicken skin substitution, and used heavy coconut/almond milk and it was delicious!. I’m dairy free and dont eat bacon products, my boyfriend loved it!