Creamy, sweet, hearty and pure deliciousness in a bowl, that’s how I would describe this dish. Whoever said Chowder was a summer-time dish, probably never sat by the fireplace on a cold winter night with a bowl of this Gluten-Free Corn & Chicken Chowder!
My family loves chowder. My kids’ and husband’s favorite is Clam Chowder, and I am a huge fan of Corn Chowder. We like to make it at home, but a healthier, lighter version, that we can all enjoy without slipping into a food coma later.
Reducing the Carbs
My husband and I are eating a lower-carb-high-protein diet these days, so I had to revisit my recipe for Summer Corn Chowder and customize it. Plus, I’ve been wanting to make a Gluten-free version for quite sometime now. Chowder is typically thickened with a roux made with flour or some sort of starch. I wanted to skip that altogether. So, I added chicken to bump up the protein in the dish. Then, I eliminated the thickening agents, and, replaced the heavy cream with half & half. That cut down the carbs and eliminated the gluten. So beware, this is not the super thick and ultra creamy chowder that you’re used to- this is like a ‘skinny’ version of it. For a vegetarian chowder, skip the chicken and you’re set.
Without the flour, the real challenge was how to thicken the chowder. After a few batches, I figured two things that helped me thicken the chowder. First, I blended some corn with half & half. That not only helped in thickening the broth, it also gave a big corn flavor boost to the chowder, that you would otherwise get by using corn broth. Secondly, once it was done cooking, I used my hand blender for 5 seconds and it thickened the chowder just enough for me. In the video recipe, I skipped this step too and liked that result as well.
Alternatively, you can use a tablespoon of rice flour during the saute process, or, use a corn starch slurry in the end, to thicken the chowder before serving. Making a corn-flour slurry is super easy. Simply dissolve 1 tablespoon of corn starch in 3-4 tablespoons of room temperature broth/milk/water and add it to the chowder and stir for a few seconds. It thickens the chowder almost immediately.
Many times I make a lower-calorie version of this recipe by using full-fat or even 2% fat milk instead of half & half. The result is not as thick as this one, but the taste is still amazing. So, if you’re watching your calories, that’s another alternative for you.
Instant Pot or Stove-Top
In this recipe, I made the gluten-free corn & chicken chowder in my programmable pressure cooker, the Instant Pot DUO. Instant Pot works great for soups and stews because the process of pressure cooking helps intensify the flavors resulting in a chowder that tastes like it has been simmering low and slow for hours. It helps me get away by adding less half & half than a regular recipe. See my FAQ on instant pot to learn more.
Making chowder on the stove-top is a super simple process too. Follow all the instructions listed in the recipe, till the pressure cooking part. Then cover and simmer the chowder for 10 minutes on medium heat. Open lid, add half & half and follow the remaining instructions. That’s it!
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Gluten Free Corn & Chicken Chowder (Low-Cal)Print Recipe
- 3 cups of corn kernels, fresh or frozen (thawed, if frozen)
- 1 lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (halves, tenders or regular) (Skip for vegetarian)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or, 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 6 Crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 cup Yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 2-3 stalks of spring onions, sliced, and white roots separated from the green stem (see instructions)
- 1/2 green pepper, diced (same size as onions)
- 1 cup chopped celery (around 1-2 ribs)
- 1 cup chopped carrots (around 1 large carrot)
- 3 cups of Chicken Stock (veg stock for vegetarian)
- 2 cups of Half & Half (Half & Half is preferred, but can use full-fat milk)
- Chopped spring onions for garnish
- 1 teaspoon Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (or any good Italian spice blend)
- 1.25 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper (fresh is preferred)
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional but recommended)
- 1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- Optional ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon Corn Starch (dissolved in 3-4 tbsp water/milk/broth- for thickening the soup)
Prep: Chop all vegetables and keep aside. Slice spring onions and separate the white roots from the green stem. The white roots will be sautéed with other vegetables and reserve the green stems for garnish. Blend 1.5 cups of corn kernels with 1 cup half and half, it should be blended well.
Turn IP on SAUTE mode (high). Wait till it displays "hot'. Melt butter and add potatoes and mushrooms. Saute for 30 seconds. Add remaining chopped vegetables, including the white roots of spring onions, and saute for a minute.
Add corn-half &half mix to the pot. Add chicken stock and all spices. Add chicken and remaining corn kernels. Stir well. Close lid. Hit cancel. Set Pressure cook or Manual for 6 minutes (high). Valve should be set to sealing. Wait 10-15 minutes for natural pressure release (NPR), before opening the pot.
Open lid. Turn on SAUTE and remove chicken for shredding. (If at this point, the soup looks curdled, don't worry. It hasn't curdled, the blended corn pieces have just risen to the top. When you cook this on SAUTE mode, they'll get blended back in.) Add the remaining Half & Half and stir.
OPTIONAL STEP: Using a hand blender, blend the chowder for few seconds. That mashes up a few potatoes and vegetables and thickens the soup naturally. Alternatively, you can make a cornstarch slurry by mixing together 1 tbsp cornstarch in 3-4 tbsp of room temperature stock/ milk/ broth and add it slowly to the chowder while stirring. This thickens the chowder almost instantly. In this recipe, I skipped both and I prefer a thinner chowder.
Add shredded chicken back in the chowder. Garnish with sliced spring onions (the green stem) and you're done!