We can't all live near a Panera but we can enjoy this easy Panera corn chowder recipe from their summer menu at home. Delicious, wholesome and easy to find ingredients come together fast for this Mexican style, creamy corn chowder recipe. Always a crowd pleaser, you'll love this simple and unique recipe!
Panera's corn chowder is delicious with sweet summer corn when in season but it's also really good with frozen corn at any time of the year. Poblano and bell peppers, cilantro and lime juice lend a fresh and mild summer flavor while potatoes and real cream give it a silky, creamy texture.
Panera Corn Chowder Ingredients
I love the wholesome, fresh ingredients in this copycat version of Panera chowder. Real cream, poblano pepper and cilantro really make this popular soup extra special.
- Corn - Fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels both work well. It does add extra flavor if you have fresh sweet corn that you cut off the cob straight into the soup.
- Poblano peppers - These mild Mexican peppers add a distinct flavor without heat.
- Lime Juice - Fresh is best if you can. (I know I'm a broken record, but fresh citrus juice really is better tasting with a gentler acidity.)
- Russet Potatoes - Russet potatoes soften nicely and their floury insides melt into the other ingredients making them the perfect potato for creamy chowders and soups. If you don't have russets, red potatoes add good color and flavor too.
- Cream - Fresh, half and half cream is what gives the silky feel to the finished chowder. Half and half cream is any cream that's between 10%-18% M.F. (milk fat) and is also sometimes called coffee cream. 18% gives a richer and thicker result and 10% is a little lighter but still has the cream flavor. Use what you prefer and if you really want it to be rich, you can even use heavy cream.
See recipe card for quantities.
Video-How To Make Panera Corn Chowder
Read on for step by step photos and instructions. There is a quick collage of the diced and minced veggies and herbs as well. Notice they are mostly an even size that will allow multiple flavors in each bite.
- Melt butter in a Dutch oven on medium heat. Add diced onion and peppers and sauté 3-4 minutes until softened. Add garlic and sauté 1 more minute.
2. Stir in flour and cook while stirring for 1-2 more minutes, until it is starting to bubble.
3. Pour in vegetable stock, whisking until flour is incorporated into the broth with no lumps left. Add sweet corn kernels, potato, cream, salt, pepper, and paprika.
4. Let simmer on medium-low heat until potatoes are tender and soup has started to thicken, approximately 15 minutes.
5. Add remaining ingredients (lime juice, vinegar, diced tomatoes and cilantro), stir and let simmer five minutes until hot.
6. Season with extra salt and fresh black pepper if you like, then serve and enjoy!
Hint: The creamy broth for this yummy soup can burn if you let it boil without stirring. Be sure to stir and don't let the heat get too hot. If it gets hotter than a simmer and starts to boil, turn the heat down.
A few ingredient substitutions can be made to make Panera corn chowder recipe vegan or gf.
- Vegan - Swap vegetable or olive oil for the butter and use a nut based cream like cashew milk in place of the dairy. This will have a slightly different flavor but remains delicious and creamy.
- Gluten-Free - You can easily make Panera corn chowder gluten free by using cornstarch instead of flour in the recipe. Use 2 tablespoon corn starch in place of the ½ cup wheat flour.
- Paprika- If you don't have paprika, you can substitute an equal amount of chili powder.
- Poblano Pepper - Green bell peppers are a good swap if you can't find poblano peppers.
Copycat Panera corn chowder is fantastic like the original recipe but if you want to change it up, this versatile soup can be dressed up even more.
- Coconut Corn Chowder - Cook up some tropical flavor by swapping coconut cream for the dairy! Use the same amount of coconut cream as dairy.
- Chicken Corn Chowder - Add in 1-2 cups of cooked, cubed boneless and skinless chicken at the same time as adding the tomato and cilantro and continue to cook until it is hot all the way through.
- Spicy - Spice it up the creamy base of this soup with a few drops of your favorite hot sauce for a spicy accent!
A large heavy bottomed stainless steel soup pot/Dutch oven is perfect for this recipe. Heavy, enameled cast iron pots work great too. The heavy bottoms help distribute heat evenly, preventing scorching of the cream. If you only have a cheaper, lighter pot, cook corn chowder over medium low heat and stir frequently to prevent burning.
Storage And Make Ahead
Panera corn chowder stores really well. You can make this ahead up to 4 days and keep covered in the fridge. Reheat gently to at least 165' F and serve.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days from when it was made.
To keep this longer, place container of corn chowder in the freezer for 1-3 months. Thaw in fridge and reheat gently when ready to serve.
What To Serve With Corn Chowder
This hearty soup can be served with bread or in a bread bowl, on it's own or paired up with some complimentary side dishes. A hearty or light side salad or a cheesy flavor sandwich like Brie and Apple Grilled Cheese, or even just some simple, crunchy potato chips all make great side dishes for corn chowder. Corn chowder also makes a nice appetizer when served in smaller portions.
For more ideas on what to serve with a creamy soup, check out What To Serve With Potato Soup. Many of the potato soup sides go well with this Panera corn chowder too.
A generous sized bowl of this soup comes in at less than 500 calories. With 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber along with lots of minerals and vitamins, this hearty soup is full of the good stuff. The cream is unfortunately a saturated fat but in moderation, this is a well rounded soup makes a great meal.
Note: Nutritional information is calculated based on standard brands and serving size and a 2000 calorie diet. See recipe card for nutrition facts.
Thanks for reading along, I hope you make and LOVE this awesome, vegetarian summer corn chowder. I'd be so appreciative if you drop a note below or tap the star rating if you try this.
Cheers to you all,
Easy Homemade Panera Corn Chowder Recipe
- ¼ cup Butter
- 1 Onion diced
- ½ cup Red Bell Pepper diced
- ½ cup Poblano Pepper diced
- 4 cloves Garlic minced
- ¼ c Flour
- 4 c vegetable or chicken stock
- 4 c Corn Kernels fresh or frozen are fine
- 1 ½ c Potato peeled and diced-approx 1 medium potato
- 1 ½ c Cream (half and half)
- ½ teaspoon each, Salt and Pepper
- ¾ teaspoon Paprika
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
- 2 Roma Tomatoes diced
- 3 Tablespoons Cilantro coarsely chopped
- Melt butter in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion and peppers and saute 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Add garlic and saute 1 more minute.
- Stir in flour and cook while stirring for 1 more minute. Pour in vegetable stock, whisking until flour is incorporated into the broth with no lumps left.
- Add corn, potato, cream, salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Let simmer on medium-low until potatoes are tender and soup has started to thicken, approximately 15 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients (lime juice, vinegar, diced tomatoes and cilantro), stir and let simmer five minutes until hot.
- Season with extra salt and pepper to taste, serve and enjoy!
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove