This easy corn and zucchini soup recipe is the perfect summertime soup. Filled with sweet summer corn, zucchini, cauliflower instead of flour and half and half instead of cream, this HEALTHY CORN AND ZUCCHINI CHOWDER will leave you feeling full and happy all summer long.
Hearty, yet healthy, soups are some of my favorite recipes to create. This Healthy Corn Chowder is just one example. Other favorites include Healthy Buffalo Chicken Soup, Healthy Roasted Broccoli Carrot Soup, and Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Buttermilk Biscuit Crumbles.
I love chowders. Clam chowder, potato chowder, fish chowder, corn chowder- if it has the word chowder in the name, then I’m pretty sure I’ll love it.
Unfortunately, chowders are usually made with thick cream, a flour roux, butter, bacon, and all the potatoes. In other words, all the things we know we should eat in moderation…but don’t want to.
Fortunately, I’ve found a compromise and it is this Healthy Corn and Zucchini Chowder. Still delicious and still creamy, but way less naughty.
INGREDIENTS IN THIS HEALTHY CORN AND ZUCCHINI CHOWDER
- Bacon- only 2 strips
- Potato- only 1
- Water or chicken stock
- Half and Half or Milk
- Chicken breasts
You’ll notice a few things right off the bat with this zucchini and corn soup. The ingredients are still simple and easy to find, but they’re much more nutrient dense rather than calorie focused.
MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS CORN AND ZUCCHINI CHOWDER AND OTHER CORN SOUP RECIPES
- Less bacon. I only added 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! I added an entire cauliflower to this delicious chowder. Cauliflower gives the illusion that your eating potato since it basically takes on the flavor of the dish.
- No roux. Which means, no flour. It is possible to have a creamy and delicious soup without the addition of flour. Promise.
- Cream…what cream? Seriously, though, have you compared the nutrition labels of whipping cream and half-and-half? It’s a little crazy the difference. That said, I wouldn’t recommend using low-fat milk, it’s too watery. Besides, it’s all about balance. Some fat is ok.
Of course, this is not a “perfect” soup. After all, it is still a chowder.
That said, it’s about a million times healthier and it’s packed full of healthy vegetables and lean protein (minus the bacon, of course).
And then I added chicken…
WHY ADD CHICKEN TO THIS SUMMER CORN AND ZUCCHINI CHOWDER?
There are few reasons, but the primary reason being that I needed protein.
Lean protein preferably.
I wanted this to be a one-dish (or one-bowl) meal, so the goal was to add as much good stuff to the pot as possible. At least, as much good stuff that was logical.
And oh my, the chicken was such a fantastic addition! The added protein made me feel full, longer, without the added weight or sleepy feeling that traditional heavy cream-based chowders do.
Boiled shredded chicken is my favorite protein contribution to pretty much any recipe, especially soups. I exercise a lot and need the protein. So, I suppose, for selfish reasons, I added it in.
HOW CAN I MAKE THIS HEALTHY CORN CHOWDER VEGETARIAN?
This is actually quite easy.
- Leave out the bacon (but I’m guessing you already knew that).
- Use water or vegetable broth instead of chicken stock.
- Leave out the chicken and add a can or two (drained and rinsed) of beans (cannellini beans for example).
IS THIS ZUCCHINI CHOWDER RECIPE GLUTEN FREE?
Yes! This recipe is totally gluten-free!
This recipe is super easy to prepare, I promise, and a healthy alternative if you’re trying to lighten up some of your favorite creamy dishes.
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Healthy Corn and Zucchini Chowder
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (canned boiled/shredded (Optional))
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 strips bacon (chopped)
- 1 large yellow onion (chopped)
- 3 celery ribs (chopped)
- 4 medium carrots (chopped)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 medium russet potato (scrubbed and cubed)
- 1 medium head cauliflower (chopped into small pieces or (for smaller bits, grated on a cheese grater))
- 6 cups water/vegetable broth/chicken broth or a mix (plus more if needed)
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 ears fresh sweet corn (husk and silk removed, with kernels cut from cob)
- 4 medium zucchini (diced into small cubes)
- 1 cup half and half (or milk)
- salt + pepper (to taste)
- fresh parsley (to garnish)
- cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce (to serve (optional))
- In a large stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon starts to brown, stirring occasionally, approximately 4 minutes.
- Add 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 vegetables just start to soften, approximately 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add chopped potato, chopped cauliflower, water and bay leaf. Stir and raise heat back to medium high heat. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes and cauliflower are soft and nearly cooked through.
- Add zucchini and corn and stir to mix. Cover and simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until all 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 shredded chicken and pureed chowder back into the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in half and half into the pot and cook until just heated through. Add any additional salt and pepper necessary.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce for a little heat 🙂
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)