Creamy, filled to the brim with fresh veggies, simple to make, and oh-so-nutritious, this vegan corn and zucchini chowder will keep summer memories alive in your kitchen all year long. Buttery tones and delicate flavors of the corn and zucchini are highlighted with garlic and herbs, umami rich miso and a touch of smokiness from tempeh bacon. Quick and easy to prepare, this chowder is sure to be one of your new favorite last-minute meals!
We spent half of the summer at my parents’ place where my mom was tending to a huge garden. All of her hard work keeping this wonderful patch of earth thriving during an otherwise crippling dry summer was rewarded with amazing bounty. While she had a variety of vegetables growing, the zucchini was, unsurprisingly, one of the highest yielding. Anyone who has grown zucchini knows all about the love-hate relationship with zucchini that develops in mid-August. The plants go from having a few of the prettiest, gracefully twisted blooms to having countless zucchini that explode to the size of footballs seemingly over night. And so, if you aren’t freezing the zucchini for the winter or
leaving them on the doorsteps of sharing with friends and neighbors, you might find yourself racking your brain of how to use it all up before it spoils.
Zucchini bread is almost always the first thing that pops to mind when I think about what to make with lots of extra zucchini. While I love it, I was trying to come up with a supper idea one night that everyone would enjoy. I’m fortunate that my kids aren’t picky eaters at their young ages but as I stood in the kitchen staring at the zucchini piled on the counter, I wondered how I could use it in a meal when our Little Miss really doesn’t enjoy it. I was on a mission to hide it in a dish! Indeed she was adamant that she hated zucchini in any shape or form…that was until she polished off a big bowl of this soup (unknowingly filled with zucchini), exclaimed how good it was, and asked for another serving. At this point I felt a bit smug in letting her know the soup was full of zucchini. To be fair, though, I can see why some people may not like zucchini. Everyone has different tastes, and to boot, zucchini is one of those vegetables that can so easily be overcooked and rendered to a slimy, soggy, texturally challenged mess. The beauty of preparing zucchini in a chowder is that it blends so nicely, has a delicate, fresh flavor and adds a light creaminess to the recipe.
Zucchini isn’t the only star contributing to the dairy-free creaminess to this chowder. Some of the corn gets blended up, too, and we add blended cashews (cashew cream), as well. Side note: Did you know cashews are a great source of iron? I was pretty happy to learn this when I was going over the nutrition profile of these guys a while ago because we eat A LOT of cashews. Their creaminess and thickening properties are second to none in both savory and sweet dishes.
I added smoked tempeh bacon to this chowder which adds that warm smokiness and umami which makes this vegan version reminiscent of classic corn chowder. And speaking of umami which is a flavor that really fills out savory dishes, the miso is also a great source. Considering miso’s higher salt content, I used a sodium-reduced soup stock to balance things out.
The last step in the recipe is blending some of the vegetables in the soup and returning the resulting veggie cream to the pot – this is my favorite way of making this chowder but I also tested it completely blended (so totally creamy, no pieces of veggies) and it was pretty amazing as well. Do what sounds the yummiest to you!
Thanks so much for checking out this blog post, and for reading along! If you make this chowder, let me know how you like it, I love hearing from you guys! You can also tag me on Instagram with your creations using my recipes so I can check them out!
Creamy Corn and Zucchini Chowder with Tempeh Bacon
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 4 slices tempeh bacon, plus more for garnish
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced (approximately 1/2 lb)
- 2 tbsp dried onion flakes, optional
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lbs zucchini, diced with skins on
- 3 ears of corn, kernals cut off (approximately 2 1/4 cups)
- 5 cups reduced-sodium soup stock, divided
- 1 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked* (see notes on soaking)
- 4 tbsp aka miso paste
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook the tempeh bacon until lightly browned on each side. Remove the tempeh bacon from the pan to cool.
- Heat the other tbsp of olive oil. Add the onion and carrots, cooking and stirring often until the onions are transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, basil, dried onions (if using), thyme, zucchini and corn. Cook, stirring often, another 5-8 minutes or until the zucchini is just becoming tender but still firm and not mushy.
- In a high-speed blender, combine the soaked, drained cashews with 2 cups of soup stock and the miso paste. Blend on high until completely smooth.
- Add the remaining 3 cups of soup stock and the cashew cream to the soup pot. Stir well over medium heat. Finely crumble in the cooled tempeh slices. Stir often until heated through.
- Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove 2 cups of the vegetables in the pot and place in the high-speed blender with one cup of the broth. Blend until smooth, and add back to the soup pot, stirring to combine. If you want a chowder that is completely smooth, you can blend the whole pot of soup in batches or use an immersion blender.