Roasted Corn Chowder with Lime

View toward Abiquiu by Karina Allrich
View toward Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Roasted Corn Chowder with Lime

A young rattlesnake curled on a flat warm stone by the laundry room door yesterday. So easy to miss, I almost walked right by him as I carried a basket of rolled clean socks and sleeve-tucked tee shirts. He was next to invisible, pristine and silent, his distinctive pattern dovetailed into pinon-filtered sunlight.

It was pure animal instinct to turn my gaze left and spot him. One sharpened second out of my usual preoccupied saunter. I backed away and sprinted (with a moment of rare agility) into the casita to fetch Steve.

I think you should see this! I blurted, interrupting his work at the laptop. My husband didn't hesitate. He's found the Save key before I can deposit my dryer warmed cargo on the bed. He knows the desert gives up unexpected gifts. He doesn't want to miss a trick.

We stared in tandem at the tiny threat for three minutes until the youngster uncurled and nosed himself back into the rock embankment.

After all the excitement, I settled in with a mug of tea and searched through blogs, looking for some indefinable solace or connection. One moment of relief from my isolation. Looking for others navigating the serpentine process named the incomprehensible name of peri-menopause.

What I found instead was one veiled advertisement after another. Chatter about soy and phyto-estrogen creams. Herbal remedies promising relief. A litany of symptoms and wallet emptying cures.

But no wild wisdom.

The perky Remember, it’s natural! doesn’t help me much through this intricate, sweaty mess, Darling. It does nothing to quell my dizzying, racing heart. We seem a generation without much guidance in these feminine arts beyond denial. We really have no ample bosomed baudy comfort. No grinning painted shaman. At least I don't. Every woman before me in my extended family had hysterectomies. Cutting out the sickened uterus. Circumventing hysteria (the root word and meta implication after all). Then came the HRT they swallowed with promises of eternal youth conquering the cruelty of Nature via horse urine.

When I was new in this process, oh yeah. I tried the yam creams. The vitamin E. The herbal teas. The yoga poses. After awhile you begin to weigh the cost and benefit of all this focused energy. You get tired of fighting. Fighting It. Cajoling It. It's exhausting, and I exhausted and bored myself with all the research and reading. What I spent on menopause books and yam cream could have bought several cases of organic dark chocolate.

Twelve years into it now, I just feel ridiculous.

How many hot flashes does it take? How many sweaty necks and palms and damp upper lips- as you stand in the bank lobby listening to a mortgage broker discuss the local art scene (and it is all you can do not to claw your way to the door)? How many sleepless two A.M.'s, lying in the dark listening to your husband's even breathing? How many bumps of acne, and broom hair that pulls out in fragile nests when you brush it, standing in front of the mirror noticing, with a startle, there is a stranger looking back?

A creature other than yourself. Some tired woman with an eggshell smile. Longing to feel engaged. Ravished.


This roasted corn chowder is gluten-free and dairy-free
Roasted corn chowder with chicken is a fabulous soup.

An easy family favorite- my roasted corn chowder with fresh lime juice and mild green chiles- is a perfect recipe for early fall. Because nothing is quite as sweet as savoring the last fresh corn of the season. And the perfect accent to these southwestern flavors? Cilantro.

Roasted Corn Chowder Recipe with Lime and Cilantro

Mornings by the mesa have been brisk and bright. These first few clear-as-a-bell days of fall always put me in the mood for soup. Harvest time is precious. So take advantage of the dwindling corn harvest and make a big pot of our family's favorite- roasted corn chowder. We usually make it vegetarian, but I have also made it with pieces of cooked organic chicken.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry or chili powder or paste, mild or hot, to taste
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 ears of corn, roasted, kernels removed
1 large sweet potato, peeled, diced
1 14-oz can Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
1 cup seeded, chopped fresh heirloom tomatoes- I used yellow and pink
4 oz. chopped roasted green chiles
1 quart light vegetable broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 rounded cups* cubed organic tofu or cooked chicken pieces
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
A quick drizzle of organic raw agave, to taste

To serve:

3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Fresh lime juice from 2 juicy limes


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and stir in the cumin and curry or chili powder; cook for one minute to infuse the oil with spice.

Add the chopped garlic and onion. Stir and cook for five minutes. Add the roasted corn, sweet potato, canned fire roasted tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, green chiles; stir for a minute. Add in the broth.

Cover and bring to a high simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about twenty minutes or so.

Add the coconut milk and tofu (or cooked chicken). Stir and season with sea salt and ground pepper; and add a drizzle of organic raw agave to taste. Heat through gently- please don't boil it.

Just before serving, add the chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. Stir. Taste test. Adjust seasoning. The lime juice brightens the taste and accents the spice. Agave cools the hotness.

Garnish with a lime wedge and pass out the spoons. Slurp. Smile.

Serves 6-8.

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Karina's Notes:

If you don't care for cilantro just leave it out. Use fresh basil or parsley. And while we're talking changes, if you're not a fan of coconut milk and you'd rather use traditional moo-cow milk in your chowder, Darling, feel free. Be happy.

If you are using dairy instead of coconut milk, add a good splash of light cream to this recipe just before serving. (Do not boil.) This makes it a rich and super creamy chowder.

Add some chipotle powder or smoked paprika if you like your corn soups smoky.

Serve with warm corn tortillas or corn muffins.

This soup was even better the next day.

This chowder works well cooked slowly in a Crock Pot; add the coconut milk and tofu or cooked chicken 30 minutes before serving and heat through.

Add the lime juice and cilantro just before serving.


Note: This recipe was originally entered into Kalyn's Kitchen Weekend Herb Blogging event: Your Favorite Herb.

Check out Elise's Corn Chowder at Simply Recipes

Recipe Source:

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  1. Karina-it both sounds and looks wonderful even though I don't like cilantro! (That if it is the same as coriander, I'm never rally sure if it is or not!)

  2. Oh, say it isn't so! That you could forsake basil for the one herb I cannot stand? You are truly a wanton woman! I don't know how anyone can eat something that tastes like Ivory soap, but if you like it, I guess that's your perogative. ;-)

    Your photos are gorgeous, as usual, and your write-up (if not your herb) is irresistable.

  3. I know exactly what you mean! Initially, I was going to choose basil too. And then I came to my senses (or perhaps because I had a big bunch of aromatic tarragon handed to me). I realized that tarragon was what I always wished I had whenever I went into the garden to get herb garnishes.

    Your corn chowder looks fantastic. What a good idea to put the sweet potato in it.

    Hmmm, if I had had a big bunch of cilantro around instead of the big bunch of tarragon, would I have chosen it over basil??


    P.S. Poor you, Susanv! (I wonder what it is about cilantro that makes people either love or loathe it.)

  4. sorry karina, i would also be in the "loathe" category on how i feel about cilantro. yet, the soup sounds fabulous - i think i will attempt a version tonight with lots of red pepper (vitamin c!) to soothe my congested head. really, one day i will follow one of your recipes exactly, but i seem to (subconsciously, i swear!) feel the need to tweak everything here or there - i guess we all want to put our own stamp on the fruits of our labour.

  5. This sounds fantastic! I wonder if my kids would like it....

  6. I'm a cilantro lover, too--and this soup looks fabulous. Also good that the cilantro goes in at the last minute, which means that there can be cilantro-free servings for my cilantro-hating boyfriend.

  7. Ahh!! Cilantro AND corn chowder. That's my idea of a little bowl of heaven. And your pictures are gorgeous, of course. I must make your chowder!

  8. How sad to hear that SusanV and Ilva are both lacking the cilantro gene. Anyway, just doing the recap and cilantro is in the lead!! (I think it's just due to lack of a get-out-the-vote effort by the basil people, but we'll take it.)

  9. Ivonne00:07

    Now I know what to do with all that lovely Ontario corn that's so abundant right now.

    It's beautiful!

  10. Gwahhh, I want you to cook for me someday. I love South Western food.

  11. Looks wonderful! Love the fire-roasted-tomatoes, cilantro, and coconut milk combo.

    btw, saw your guac on slashfoods foodporn - it certainly deserved it!

  12. I absolutely love it, and I have to join in the chorus of "I don't much like cilantro either!!" I still put it in the soup since it's good for you!!
    Was wondering if this soup would freeze ok?? My two children did eat it, though not much (I did go light on the spices and onions for them). They still prefer hamburgers right now (homemade). I keep trying though. Eventually their taste buds will appreciate my cooking!!

  13. your photography is really astonishing... and what a coincidence - i have the same blue tiles on my kitchen worktop as well. are we somehow related??

  14. oh, and I forgot to say: I LOVE cilantro! after a long ansence from mexico, i re-discovered it in portuguese cooking and there i was, sobbing in the restaurant from all the good (taste) memories... it wasn't available at all where i grew up, and i appreciate being able to pick it up at any supermarket here in london now - and believe me, i do so at least once a week!
    no other herb is fresher, more pungent while being so incredibly subtle... mmh! i love it!

  15. Karina, Just wanted to let you know I made your chowder the day before yesterday; I had a batch of vegie stock waiting to be used. And this is by far the most delicious and healthy chowder I've ever had, let alone made from scratch. We're having it again tonight; can't wait. It makes such a huge batch for two people that I hope it freezes well. Added cubed avocado, and it was so excellent. I'm not a cilantro person, but added whole leaves just to perfume the broth. Thanks!

  16. Hi Harry and Eddie!

    I bet it was fab with homemade veggie stock. I'm so glad you liked it. Cubed avocado sounds delicious. I don't see why it wouldn't freeze well. Let me know how you make out (with freezing). I've never had enough left over to freeze! (Can you tell all the men in my my life have big appetites? ;))

    Thanks for your comment.


  17. This is an amazing chowder. I like to puree a couple ladle-fulls of soup and add it back in to thicken the broth, or even make half the batch as a creamy pureed soup just to mix it up! Also, one time I forgot roasted canned tomatos, so I just used plain canned tomatos and added a jar of roasted red peppers that I luckily had in the pantry...sooooo goood.

  18. We loved it. I added torn chicken because I had no faith (not sure why...your track record is perfect) ANd because we had spent the day working on our little farmette.
    What a delight to come in and be more then surprised at how deliciously wonderful your Roasted Corn Chowder tasted.... and the smell that filled our home was lovely.
    The way you balanced all the flavors is really something it was like a painting in food form. IT's like you have a painting in your mind and then you deconstruct it to make a recipe.

  19. jeant11:59

    Karina-your chowder sounds delicious especially on a really cold day in Minnesota!! I've been searching the internet for the best corn chowder recipe and yours sounds the best by far. Do you have any suggestions on how to roast the corn when fresh corn isn't available - canned or frozen? Thanks for any tips.

  20. Hi JeanT- Great question!

    This chowder is a tasty choice for a cold winter day. I suggest using frozen corn. You can "toast" thawed kernels in a dry iron skillet- stir until the corn emits a nutty roasted scent.

    Or layer thawed corn on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for ten minutes or so. Let your nose be your guide. Higher heat will roast it faster, lower- slower.



  21. Gabriel18:44

    I was going to just make a traditional corn chowder tonight, but then I saw this and it blew my mind. My family love cilantro in any southwest-ish dish and in many asian dishes. It is just such a bright, unique flavor. The addition of the lime, the curry, the cilantro, and the coconut milk almost make this a Southwest version of the Thai soup: Tom Ka Gai. That soup also uses basil so I could see how a bunch of fresh bright basil would serve as a nice cilantro alternative in this soup.

    Oh and regarding Cilantro vs Coriander: Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant. It is ususally dried and ground, but looks much like a pepercorn when whole. Coriander has a very different when compared to Cilantro, so if you have only tried one, try the other before you really judge it.

  22. Lovely! Just what I needed--to add a new cool weather dish to my yummy but too-frequently-made winter fare.

    Our whole family (including 4 kids under 10) LOVE cilantro. I cook with it often--in the winter AND summer!

    Yum! Can't wait to try this one.

  23. Anonymous16:48

    Karina this sounds perfect for fall. I went looking for Agave and found Agave Nectar. Is that the same thing, or should I keep looking? Thank you for all your yunny ideas!

  24. Thanks, Laura!

    Anon- Agave is nectar, yes. It looks like honey. You could also use a pinch of raw sugar if sugar is not an issue for you.


  25. Mmm, this is exactly what I needed to look at on a rainy, chilly morning. Thanks for the bowl of warmth! I'm adding this to my to-cook pile :)

  26. HI! If you were going to make this sans chicken, what would you add instead? Pinto beans? Cannellini beans? Chickpeas? It sound lovely, although I too will be using something other than cilantro as I am apparently missing the magic cilantro gene.

  27. Claire- I'm glad to hear it! :)

    Liz- You can make this recipe using a can of drained rinsed chick peas. It's delicious that way. And the cilantro is optional.


  28. mmm, that sounds so delicious! I love all of those ingredients, especially the cilantro! I'll have to make this for sure! Maybe tonight, as it is quite chilly in Denver today.

  29. Mmm you're right--perfect for fall! This makes me long for leaves crunching under my feet as I pull my sweater sleeves over my hands to keep warm.

  30. Yum! So savory, and what a creative way to use the agave :). I like how it even has fall colors!

  31. Anonymous00:56

    I found myself sneaking small bowls of this after everyone went to bed. Didn't feel one bit guilty about it either! I was surprised how filling it was! WOW!
    I am adding this as an appetizer to my Thanksgiving menu.
    Does anyone know if it freeaes well?

  32. Sara09:15

    This was completely fabulous! Reminded me of a Thai Coconut Curry, spicy and delicious.

  33. Kathy G.19:25

    Just made this tonight and absolutely LOVED it! Forgot to buy the sweet potato, though, and it was still good. I am going to serve it to my book club at our holiday December gathering. Yum!

    I wonder if you can freeze it (without the chicken and coconut milk).

  34. Single-Dad17:33

    How might I go about roasting corn, and removing the kernel?

  35. Tiffany, Sally, Sophie, Sara - Thanks, all - you're the best!

    Anon and Kathy G- I'm not sure about freezing it. I never have. Anyone out there who has?

    Single-Dad- You have a couple of choices...

    Easy- if you have a grill: Remove some of the outer husks- leave a few; soak the ears in the husks- in water for 15-20 minutes; roast covered on a hot grill in the husks. Turn frequently. They'll get smoky and tender and oh-so-good. This might take 15 to 20 minutes or so depending upon how hot the grill is.

    Then, peel off the husks, stand an ear upright on a cutting board and using a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the cob (slicing down).

    Or--- you can slice the kernels off the cob raw; scatter them on to a baking sheet; roast in a hot oven until tender and charred. The hotter the oven the faster they'll cook; keep an eye on 'em.



    I recently found your blog, and this was the first recipe I tried. I loved it! Absolutely loved it, and I am not a sweet potato fan, but they were delicious in here too. Thank you for the great blog - I'll definitely be back!

  37. Karina,

    This is AMAZING!
    I made it for my parents as a kind of "I'm married now come and see how I cook" initiation...
    I was hesitant, b/c when I told my mom over the phone that it was a good recipe, she balked at the sound of all those tomatoes (she hates 'em)

    But then, they tasted it.... i stopped breathing to see the response... and ...
    a miracle, but more likely, a great recipe.

    We love eating it with the pumpkin muffins~ my Dad said he could live with us if we always eat like this... i gave you the credit.

    thanks! :)

  38. Amanda- I'm so glad. Thanks for stopping back to let me know. Appreciate it! :-)

    Jackie- Oh- Honey. I've been in those shoes. Thank you for your vivid description of it... I'm thrilled it met with their approval. Go you!