Creamy vegan corn chowder made with summer sweet corn, sunflower seeds and lots of umami goodness. Topped off with some addictive shiitake bacon, it’s the perfect satisfying (and surprisingly healthy) dinner that’s ready in less than 35 minutes.
How to Make Vegan Corn Chowder
First thing you want to do is soak the sunflower seeds. While many other creamy vegan soup recipes may use blended cashews as a thickener, I prefer to use sunflower seeds because they’re cheaper and allergy friendly! Just cover the seeds with a few inches of boiling water and allow them to soak for about an hour and up to overnight. This ensures that they blend up nice and smooth.
On to the vegan corn chowder… The base is pretty simple, just a some onion, chopped celery, fresh sweet corn and cubed russet potato for extra creaminess. Make sure you chop the potato pretty small so it cooks quickly. Once everything has softened, pour in some vegetable stock and bring everything up to a boil. Let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. The corn will also turn a beautiful bright yellow as it cooks.
Transfer about half the mixture into a high speed blender and add the sunflower seeds (drained) plus some miso paste, nutritional yeast, maple syrup and thyme. The miso and nutritional yeast will add a nice umami cheesiness to the soup while a touch of maple syrup brings out the natural sweetness of the corn. Blend that up until its nice and smooth. Depending on the power of your blender, this could take up to three minutes of continuous blending.
Once the soup is smooth and creamy, scrape it back into the pot and crank up the heat to cook everything together for another couple minutes. If the soup seems too thick or its burning around the edges, add in more stock until it reaches the right consistency.
This last step is easy to forget, but its super important! Turn off the heat and stir in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The acid is going to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. Finally, taste for salt. If the vegan corn chowder seems bland, it definitely needs more salt so don’t be afraid to season liberally! To serve, divide the soup among bowls and top with the shiitake bacon plus a few sprigs of basil. If you have any left, I also like a sprinkle of fresh corn on top for some added texture. Enjoy!
The Best Shiitake Bacon…
This vegan corn chowder would not be complete without a little salty smoky topping. This shiitake bacon is definitely worth the extra dish. It’s crispy, smoky and a little sweet. I love real bacon and I can tell you it has a very similar taste. The texture is actually a bit meatier, ironically.
Start by slicing your shiitakes in thin strips. You may need to also remove the stems if they seem a little disheveled. Pour a bit of oil an a heavy oven safe skillet (I used an enameled cast iron) and add the mushrooms plus all your seasonings. Cook the mushrooms for just a few minutes to ensure most of the water evaporates and the flavors develop before heading in the oven to finish crisping.
The shiitake bacon should only take around 15 minutes to bake so keep an eye on it! Once it begins to crisp around the edges and take on a deep golden hue, it’s ready. Take out the skillet and let those guys cool for a couple minutes before enjoying on top of a bowl of vegan corn chowder!
Tips for Making Vegan Corn Chowder
- If you cannot find fresh sweet corn, frozen may be substituted. Just note that the soup may take a couple minutes longer to come to a boil.
- I have only tried this recipe with a high speed blender, but I believe a food processor would work as well. Just make sure your sunflower seeds have soaked for long enough to become very soft. This ensures they will not make the chowder gritty.
- This vegan corn chowder will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. The shiitake bacon can be stored in the fridge, but it is best fresh when it’s crispy. I recommend reheating it in the oven so it doesn’t become soggy.
More Recipes to Try:
- Creamy miso butter pasta with sweet corn
- Balsamic lentil ragu with sweet corn polenta
- Vegan broccoli cheddar soup
- Moroccan spiced lentil burgers