Corn Chowder Dairy Free

As a San Francisco girl, I would like to say I know good chowder and great bread! With so many of us at home and outta work, cooking is becoming a great sport for my friends who used to eat out a lot. I am not a fan of succotash, because there is something about Lima beans I just can’t stand lol. With that said, the “corn gravy” I make to thicken this chowder reminds me of the best part of succotash:  sweet corn, onions and bacon.

Before I begin, for most people it’s hard to call a chowder a chowder without dairy in it.

In my opinion a chowder is like a potato stew with extra goodies added in. So, just because it doesn’t have added heavy whipping cream does not mean it can’t still be called a chowder.  It can, and I promise it will still be delicious.  

Right now it seems that we’re all being extra creative because of COVID-19.  Staying in the house with fresh homemade bread is what inspired this soup talk.  Let’s look on the bright side!  Your cup is half full.

Just in case you wanted to know the history of chowder, here it is, in a nutshell.

Chowder is a simple dish of salt and pepper, potatoes and onion, pork and fish, cream and hard crackers.  It’s said that the dish is of French origin. Among French settlers in Canada, it was a custom to stew clams and fish laid in courses with bacon, sea biscuits, and other ingredients in a bucket called a “chaudière”.  Native Americans adopted it as “chawder”, which was corrupted as “chowder” by the Yankees. New versions were introduced with tomatoes now known as Manhattan chowder. To me, if it is seafood and tomato base, this is a Cioppino, and it can become a big debate!

Bottom line…a chowder can be made many different ways because I say so.

Here’s my take on a corn chowder that is dairy free. It could easily be made vegan as well.   

Ms Foodies Dairy-Free Clam Chowder


5 medium large russets or Waxy potatoes

2 cups of sweet white corn

1/2 red sweet bell pepper

5 green onions or 1/2 yellow

3 ribs of celery

3 cloves of garlic smashed or grated

Thyme fresh or dried

8 cups of stock or 4 each of water and stock 4 for potatoes and 2 for roux

2-3 tablespoons of flour

5 slices of bacon

You could also use in place of bacon

Oil or butter or ghee depends on your diet

If using russet’s I like to peel.  If  using waxy potatoes, like gold or red, just scrub.

Chop potatoes in bite sized cubes. Use 4 cups of stock and add enough water to cover potatoes one inch over.

Prep and chop veggies. You want your pepper and celery in a small dice, almost like a mince. I like to cut my green onions in half because I cook them at different stages.

If using bacon, fry up now in a high sided skillet and KEEP BACON GREASE. You will be sauteing your veggies with it.  Once bacon is cooked, place on cutting board to chop, no need to blot off grease.  If not using bacon…keep reading. 😉

Start to boil potatoes 20 minutes, until tender. Check after 10 mins that the liquid is still covering potatoes and give a few stirs. If you need more liquid add some salted water.

While potatoes are cooking:

If you did not use bacon…Get a high sided skillet and warm it hot enough to melt butter or make your oil shimmer.

Sauté peppers, celery and give a stir. A couple of minutes later add white part of onions. Once softened, add garlic and cook one more minute then turn heat to low or off and add flour, cook off till it becomes thick and browned.

 Slowly pour in last 2 cups of stock while stirring.  Whisk is best if you have one. This is creating a roux that will help thicken your chowder.  Once flour has been fully incorporated and you are out of stock, return to heat and  thicken.
Add corn, green tops of onion, thyme, pepper, a dash of salt if you need it.

This is what your corn gravy should look like.

By now your potatoes should be fork tender or close to done. Pour your skillet corn gravy into your potatoes, cover, turn heat to low and set your table. Let the soup rest for 10 minutes.

Garnish with some crispy bacon, green onions and cayenne.
Other garnish ideas: chives and cheddar, nut or soy milk, DF yogurt or soy cream, fresh herbs like parsley, fire roasted fresh corn, crispy onions or leeks.

Serve in a bowl, mug, cup or even a bread bowl if you wish. 

xoxo Ms Foodie


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