Nothing is as cozy and satisfying on a cold night as this chicken corn chowder. This recipe is rich and creamy but healthier than other chowders — because it's thickened with butternut squash, potatoes, and just a splash of cream.
This soup is a perfect combination of smooth and creamy, plus crispy and crunchy from the corn, fresh vegetables, and herbs that go into the pot at the very end.
Try it tonight! I promise you won't be disappointed.
Why This Recipe Works
If you follow my blog, you know how much I love soup! This one ranks near the top of my favorites list because I really love the flavors. And, it’s fast and easy to make. Check the Substitutions section for a few shortcuts I often use.
It's also full of vegetables, making it a healthier version of most creamy chowder-like soups. And although it’s super creamy, there’s very little cream in it.
This chicken corn chowder tastes even better the next day. It also freezes beautifully, so you can keep some on hand for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking.
Here are some of the key ingredients needed to make this soup. Substitutions and variations are listed in the section below.
Butternut squash. This adds a lovely color and thickens the soup when it’s pureed. You can buy a whole squash (about 1 ¼ pounds) and peel it yourself, or make it easier and buy a one-pound container of pre-cut butternut squash.
Corn. Frozen corn works best and stays crispy in the soup. Choose small kernel, white, sweet corn if it’s available.
Chicken. I like boneless breasts for this recipe because they’re lean and cook quickly.
Fresh red pepper, scallions, and cilantro. These go in at the very end of cooking so they stay crisp. The crunch of the vegetables and the bright flavor of cilantro are part of the appeal of this soup.
Cream. I add about ⅓ cup of heavy cream because it makes this soup extra velvety-rich. I don’t recommend light cream or half-and-half because it may curdle if you reheat the soup.
Substitutions and Variations
- For a dairy-free option, skip the cream. It’s still very good without it.
- If you can’t find fresh butternut squash, frozen is a great substitute.
- Substitute rotisserie chicken for the boneless chicken breasts.
- If you don’t like cilantro, substitute fresh Italian parsley.
First, cook your chicken by adding enough water to the pot to cover the chicken. Add a generous pinch of salt and a bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, and then cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and poach the chicken for about 20 minutes or until it’s no longer pink inside.
Second, shred the chicken. Set it aside.
Third, saute the onions until they’re soft and light golden brown. Add the flour and let it cook for about two more minutes, stirring well. This will remove any flour/paste flavor.
Fourth, add the stock. Bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally until it thickens slightly. Add the squash and potatoes and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer until the vegetables are very tender.
Fifth, puree the soup until it is smooth (or as smooth as you like). A few chunks of potatoes and squash are nice.
Sixth, add the corn, chicken, and thyme. Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes or until the corn is tender.
Seventh, add the red peppers and scallions. Continue to simmer for about five more minutes. Don’t overcook; these vegetables should stay crisp.
Eighth, add the cilantro and cream. Stir well and serve.
If you’re using a whole butternut squash, here are some tips to make peeling it easier:
- Cut the bottom off so you can stand it flat. Then, cut the squash in half at the bottom of the neck. Use a sharp chef’s knife or a Y-peeler to remove the skin. See the photos in this butternut squash and apple soup post to see these steps in action.
- You can also soften the skin before peeling it. Pierce the skin a few times with a sharp knife and put the whole squash in the microwave on high for about three minutes. Cut the top and bottom off, and then cut the squash in half at the bottom of the neck. Use a sharp knife or Y-peeler to peel the skin.
Cut the potatoes and butternut squash into similar dice-sized pieces, about 1 inch or slightly smaller. This ensures they cook quickly and evenly.
I recommend an immersion blender to puree this soup. It’s faster, easier, and safer than a blender. If you don’t have one, puree it in small batches in a regular blender and make sure to only fill the blender jar half full, or the hot soup could explode out of the top.
Don’t overcook the sweet peppers and scallions. They’re best if they’re still crisp and crunchy.
What to Serve With Chicken Corn Chowder
This hearty soup pairs nicely with a fresh green salad and a pan of sweet potato cornbread. To drink, make a pitcher of cold-brewed iced tea. It’s refreshing year-round, and you don’t have to put it in the sun to brew!
For dessert, make a pan of my fast and easy apple crisp.
Chowder is a term for a thick soup, usually made with a base of flour and butter (called a roux) and often thickened with cream or milk. Chowders frequently contain potatoes among their other ingredients. As the potatoes cook, their starch also helps thicken the soup.
Keep leftover soup in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to four days, or in the refrigerator for up to six months. Reheat it gently over low to medium heat and stir it often to prevent the corn from sticking to the bottom of the pot and the cream from curdling.
Other Related Soup Recipes
Do you love soup as much as I do? Make a pot of these tasty soup recipes soon!
Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder
- .75 pound boneless chicken breast
- 1.5 teaspoons Kosher salt divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 pound butternut squash cubed, approximately 1-inch, fresh or frozen
- 1 pound potatoes cubed, approximately 1-inch
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1.5 cups frozen corn
- ½ bunch scallions chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper seeded and diced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro lightly packed, chopped
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- Place the chicken breasts in a stockpot or Dutch oven and add enough cold water to cover. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and add a bay leaf. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and let the chicken simmer for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink inside.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool. Shred it and set it aside. Rinse and dry the stockpot.
- In the same stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions in the oil for about five minutes until soft. Add flour and cook for two more minutes, stirring often. Add broth, stir well, and boil to thicken slightly.
- Add the squash and potatoes and return the soup to a boil.
- Reduce heat, and let simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Remove soup from the stove and puree with an immersion blender. Alternatively, place most of the solids along with a cup of the liquid in a regular blender and blend until smooth. Pour the pureed portion back into the pot and stir well.
- Return creamed soup to the stove, and add corn, chicken, and thyme.
- Simmer for 10 minutes or until corn is tender.
- Add red peppers and scallions, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes or until the peppers are slightly softened but still firm.
- Finally, add cilantro and cream and heat through.
- Season with about 1.5 teaspoons of salt (or to taste).