Creamy, thick and chunky, Corn and Chicken Chowder is the ultimate comfort food. My healthier version of this classic dish is still full of flavor, but has less sodium, calories, fat – and Weight Watchers’ points. Plus, it’s super easy to prepare with pantry ingredients!

two light blue bowls filled with portions of Corn and Chicken Chowder

I love soups, especially chowders, which by definition are both creamy and chunky in texture. In my Corn and Chicken Chowder, hunks of chicken, potatoes, sweet corn, bell pepper and onions are swimming in a creamy, thick, slightly cheesy broth. It’s topped off with crunchy bits of bacon. Doesn’t sound healthy to you? Read on!

close up of two bowls filled with portions of Corn and Chicken Chowder

How I created a Healthier Corn and Chicken Chowder

Chowders, by nature, are rich and often heavy. While I love their flavor, I frequently found myself feeling over stuffed after enjoying a bowlful. And, traditional chowders often have a lot of calories, fat and sodium. So, one day I set out to see if I could create a lightened up version – and this Corn and Chicken Chowder is the result.

After a few experiments, I discovered I only needed to make a few modifications to the basic corn and chicken chowder ingredients to make it healthier. I was thrilled! All the delicious flavors in the chowder were preserved, as were the all-important textures – while reducing the fat, calories and sodium. Here are my changes:

  • Use center cut bacon. This cut of bacon has around 25 percent less fat than regular, and therefore is also lower in calories. I also use only 2 pieces in this recipe for 7 to 8 people, and serve it as a garnish.
  • Use fresh or frozen corn, not canned. Canned corn is full of sodium!
  • Use low-sodium chicken broth. This way you can control the amount of salt.
  • Substitute 2% milk thickened with flour for the cream. You can achieve the same thick creaminess in chowder while reducing the fat by whisking flour into low fat milk before adding it to the broth.
  • Add some Cheddar cheese. A small amount of Cheddar (.5 ounce per serving!) stirred into the broth complements all the other ingredients perfectly and rounds out the flavors. The cheese flavor is fairly mild; for a cheesy Chicken Chowder, add more as a garnish.
two bowls filled with Corn and Chicken Chowder with a basket of bread and a candle in the background

Can I make Corn and Chicken Chowder ahead?

It will keep in the refrigerator for around 3 days, but I think it’s best when served the same day. It will thicken as it sits; I recommend adding more broth as needed when reheating.

Can it be frozen?

I don’t recommend freezing this corn chowder, mainly because of the potatoes and milk. They can give it a grainy texture after freezing, and also the milk can separate when reheated.

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close up of two bowls filled with portions of Corn and Chicken Chowder

Corn and Chicken Chowder

  • Author: (From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Yield: 7 to 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Soups
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: american

Description

Warm, creamy, thick and chunky, Corn and Chicken Chowder is the ultimate comfort food. My healthier version of this classic dish is still full of flavor, but has less calories, fat – and Weight Watchers’ points. Plus, it’s super easy to prepare with pantry ingredients.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 pound skinned, boned chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (can also use green)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 cups peeled, chopped red potatoes
  • 2 1/4 cups fresh or frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings: additional cheese, chopped jalapeno peppers, sliced green onion

Instructions

  1. Fry bacon in the bottom of a large stockpot over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pot and drain on paper towel; crumble and set aside. Don’t clean out pot.
  2. Add the chicken, bell pepper, onion and garlic to the stockpot and cook in bacon fat over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Reduce heat, uncover and stir in corn.
  4. Place milk in a medium mixing bowl and slowly sift the flour into the milk, whisking as you go. Slowly stir milk mixture into soup. Cook over medium heat until thick, around 15 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Add cheese and stir until melted and incorporated into broth; add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Ladle into individual bowls and top with crumbled bacon. Serve optional additional toppings on the side.

Notes

Make ahead: It will keep in the refrigerator for around 3 days, but I think it’s best when served the same day. It will thicken as it sits; I recommend adding more broth as needed when reheating. I don’t recommend freezing (see comments above the recipe).

Lee Clayton Roper

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I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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