Healthy Corn and Zucchini Chowder

I love chowders. Clam chowder, potato chowder, corn chowder- if it has the word chowder in the name, then I'm pretty sure I'll love it.

If you've ever had eaten any creamy chowder variation, then you'll know that this rich comfort food is not light. Traditionally made with heavy ingredients like butter, cream, bacon and potatoes, chowders are pretty much the complete opposite of healthy. While I'll splurge on a cup of creamy clam chowder while vacationing at the beach, eating a big bowl of the stuff for dinner isn't exactly what my body needs at the end of the day. I'm guessing that if you're here maybe you feel the same way too :)

But...BUT! Worry not, because this healthier version of corn chowder is delicious, you guys. Plus, you won't feel the need to take a nap directly afterwards because your body is so fatigued from processing so much heavy food (although, I am all for naps, so please, if you can, nap away!)

Before I move on, let me just say that this soup isn't perfect; after all, it is still a chowder. However, it is a million times healthier than the alternative without being a vegetable broth soup.

Ok, so where do I get started...

Ah yes, first I needed to figure out how to lighten this soup up a bit. That was actually pretty easy- less bacon, less potato, and instead of heavy cream I replaced it with half-and-half (or milk) and reduced the amount usually called for in chowders. Also, no flour. In place of the lost potato, I added cauliflower. As we all know by now, cauliflower is a magic vegetable. If you're a potato lover, this may be a hard substitution. I know. I'm sorry. But cauliflower is so good for you and potatoes are... not. I added less bacon (2 strips) because bacon gives really awesome salty flavor that I didn't want to completely miss out on. Next time, however, 1 strip would be sufficient.

You'll notice if you take a peek below... that I added shredded chicken.

Some of you may be thinking why? Well, for the super lean protein, of course. Boiled shredded chicken is my favorite protein contribution to pretty much any recipe, especially soups. I exercise a lot and need the protein. So, for selfish reasons, I added it in. You can, of course, leave it out, but I don't recommend it.

To balance the protein, there must always be veggies- and lots of them. You'll find celery, carrots, onion, zucchini and, of course, cauliflower! I chopped up one potato to keep with tradition and added all 5 ears of corn I had on hand to the pot. 

This recipe is super easy to prepare, I promise and a healthy alternative if you're trying to lighten up some of your favorite creamy dishes.

Healthy Corn and Zucchini Chowder

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 45 minutes / Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Approximately 6

Ingredients

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
1 Tablespoon butter
2 stripes bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 medium russet potato, scrubbed and diced into small cubes
1 small/medium head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces or (for smaller bits, grated on a cheese grater)
6 cups water/vegetable broth/chicken broth or a mix, plus more if needed
1 bay leaf
5 ears of fresh sweet corn, husk and silk removed, with kernels cut from cob
4 medium zucchini, diced into small cubes
1 cup half and half or milk
salt + pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, to garnish
Cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce, to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon starts to brown, stirring occasionally, approximately 4 minutes.

  2. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and thyme. Stir the vegetables with the bacon and bacon grease until coated. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until vegetables just start to soften, approximately 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add chopped potato, chopped cauliflower, water and bay leaf. Stir and raise heat back to medium high heat. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes and cauliflower are soft and nearly cooked through.

  4. Add zucchini and corn and stir to mix. Cover and simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are fully cooked.

  5. Remove the bay leaf from the pot and carefully transfer 3 cups of chowder to a food processor or blender; process until pureed. Carefully stir shredded chicken and pureed chowder back into the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Stir in half and half into the pot and cook until just heated through. Add any additional salt and pepper necessary.

  7. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce for a little heat :)

Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Little Broken

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