A rich, garden-inspired vegan coconut milk corn chowder with spicy jalapeños and handfuls of vegetables that feels just right for these last summer days.
This quarantine has taken on an excruciating sense of repetition. We’ve watched the summer inch by, one long walk at a time. Within the repetition, I find forgiveness. There are plenty of days where we all find ourselves derailed by setbacks large and small. But then, there’s always tomorrow. It looks a lot like today, but fresh, with no mistakes in it. I’m not usually one to quote L.M. Montgomery, but here we are.
My cooking game feels shaky, too. Or maybe just different. I’ve abandoned any kind of kitchen perfectionism, choosing instead to make quick, frugal meals that use up whatever bits are coming in from the garden. Mostly, I’ve been turning to the recipes I know by heart, the kind of recipes that come together in glugs of olive oil and handfuls of onions.
This vegan coconut milk corn chowder is like that. It’s a variation on two favorite recipes, both of which I know by heart. The first is a coconut milk corn and red pepper stew from the first book that ever really taught me to cook, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamunda Devi. And the second bit of inspiration comes from a late summer garden soup from my friends at Huckle and Goose. Their cookbook, released last year, continues to inspire me with smart, simple recipes that really embrace the season. (Check out their Greek-inspired lamb taco recipe and some more thoughts on the book here.)
Garden-Inspired Corn Chowder
Though simple, this vegan stew is deeply flavorful with golden pools of olive oil rising to the surface between all the vegetables and creamy coconut milk. Fresh jalapeños (here, in varying stages of overripeness, owing to a few days of garden neglect) lend a background of flavorful heat that cuts through the sweet richness nicely. And finally, fresh cilantro, a big squeeze of lime, and more sliced jalapeños top it all off.
As with all my recipes these days, there’s flexibility. This coconut milk corn chowder recipe is made with potatoes and zucchini. The potatoes do give it a little heft, but I think you could add more zucchini or all potatoes according to what you have on hand. Likewise with the peppers and herbs. Basil or parsley would be nice additions if you have them.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 large jalapeño, seeded and minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 2 cups diced red potatoes, or sub Yukon Gold
- Corn kernels from 3 ears of corn
- 1 cup diced zucchini (from about 1 medium zucchini)
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk, well shaken
- 1 small jalapeño, sliced thin
- ½ cup minced cilantro
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
Set a large 3- or 4-quart Dutch oven or other sturdy soup pot, over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and when hot, add the onions. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Folkd in the jalapeño, cumin, red pepper flakes, and sea salt. Cook 2 minutes. Next fold in the potatoes and cook 4 minutes. Finally, fold in the corn and zucchini, add the vegetable broth, and bring it all to a lively simmer. Turn heat to medium-low and cook 10 - 15 minutes longer, or until potatoes are tender. As they cook, taste broth and vegetables and add salt as needed.
Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk. Keep soup warm over low heat until ready to serve.
Served soup topped with minced cilantro, sliced jalapeño, and a squeeze of lime.