Smoky Corn Chowder with Lime Crema

Magic? Well, yes, I’ve heard that! A creamy corn soup… but WITHOUT the cream?? You’ll love this lighter take on chowder, with a perfect hint of smoke and topped with a dollop of lime crema. This is THE soup for summer!

Close up of chowder in three bowls and lime halves in distance

When you hear the word “chowder”, you probably think heavy. I do.

In fact heaping bowls full of clams and chunky potatoes might come to mind.

I do love a good clam chowder – one of the Northeast’s great culinary exports – but for me it’s special occasion soup.

Most times I want a soup that’s not going to weigh me down, one that we can enjoy on a weeknight in the summer.

Top down of Chowder in bowls with lime hlaves

Combine that with my constant search for ways to use one of summer’s greatest hits, SWEET CORN, and you get this incredible corn chowder.

Here’s the secret. I use beans as the perfect stand-in for cream and potatoes. Mashed slightly with a potato masher before going in, they hide out but end up thickening the soup and providing the most amazing chowdery texture. A splash of milk smooths it all out and melds the flavors together in harmony!

Close up top down of one bowl of corn chowder with lime crema

I use just two strips of bacon to bring in a smoky, hearty background flavor, but if you’re not into bacon I’ve got options below so read on (see substitutions).

Close up of one bowl of corn chowder with lime crema and crispy bacon

Can I Make This Ahead?

Absolutely. Make the soup and the lime crema and refrigerate separately. When ready to serve, gently reheat the soup and resume with step 5. The soup can also be frozen up to a month, but do not freeze the yogurt mixture.

Side angle with chowder in bowls topped with bacon and lime crema

Are There Substitutions?

  1. To make this vegetarian, omit the bacon and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. To make up for the smoky flavor that the bacon emparts, you may add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, or chipotle chili powder which will also give it a little kick.
  2. Instead of rosemary, you could use fresh oregano.

Side view of three bowls of corn chowder

Any Ways to Add Spice?

  • Try topping with chopped jalapeno, fresh or pickled.
  • For a south of the border slant, add ½ teaspoon of cumin when cooking the onions.

Angled view with chowder in bowls and lime halves and spoons


Make Ahead Healthy Dinner Party Quick & Easy Mid-Week

Smoky Corn Chowder with Lime Crema

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Servings: 6


  • 2 strips bacon
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 1 small sweet onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 can white beans drained (such as cannellini)
  • 6 ears corn shucked
  • ½ lime
  • ½ cup greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Optional for serving: fresh cilantro and chili powder


  • In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove, chop and set aside for garnish.
  • Add the butter to the pan, and saute the onions and garlic over low heat until softened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, using the large holes on a box grater, grate two ears of corn into a bowl. Cut the kernels off of the remaining four ears of corn and place in the same bowl along with the chopped rosemary. Add the beans to the same bowl, mashing them with a potato masher or large fork.
  • Add the flour to the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes over low heat. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and milk, stirring the whole time to avoid lumps. Add the beans, corn and rosemary, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until the corn is cooked and it is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  • In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, juice and zest from ½ of the lime.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, and dollop or drizzle the lime crema and sprinkle the bacon over top. If desired, also top with a sprinkle of chili powder and cilantro.

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