~ This Southwestern Corn Chowder takes a comfort food classic and gives it a fun little kick! Satisfyingly delicious without being too spicy! Loaded with sunshiny sweet corn flavor, plus southwestern flair from salsa, black beans and green chiles. So easy – just mix everything together right in your crock pot! ~
This Recipe Is: • Freezable • Make Ahead • Gluten Free •
As food writers, Gretchen and I are often asked where we get our ideas.
And really, that’s one of the (many!) great things about food … inspiration is everywhere!
Every restaurant menu, every heirloom family recipe card. Every glossy food magazine cover at the grocery check-out, every trip to the farmers’ market, every single bite of every single meal. No really … everywhere! Pretty fabulous, actually … all that mouthwatering inspiration!
The best part of all is when some little spark of that inspiration starts churning, way back in the daaaaaark food-obsessed recesses of my brain.
I start mentally kicking around ingredients (Gotta be healthy … can I work in more veggies?), and techniques (Can I make this easier? Do it faster? Maybe even ahead of time?).
And then … all those swirling ideas take shape, and … there it is! … the next recipe I’m dying to eat!
Usually, this requires a phone call to Gretchen, during which (in blissful excitement), I outline blow-by-blow every detail of how this new recipe is going to happen. She listens patiently while I blather on. (She’s pretty great that way.) She gets it, ’cause she’s got those inspiring ideas, too. It’s so fun to work with someone who just gets you, ya know?
This recipe for Southwestern Corn Chowder came about pretty much exactly as described.
Picture a cold-cold January day. The kind of day that finds my kids gleefully sledding down our back hill, or begging for a trip to the ski slopes. My kids’ love for those kinda days knows no bounds. (And you’ll notice I said “kids.” As a mom, I gotta tell ya … my love for those kinda days knows just a whole bunch of bounds.)
So anyway, on that cold-cold day, I started daydreaming. And by now you know most all of my daydreams involve food. (I already landed my handsome hunk, so food’s really all I need to dream about anyway. 🙂 ) My dreams hit upon our Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder. Ahhhhhhhh … we all have a special, warm-fuzzy place in our hearts for that gem of a recipe. And, you guys apparently do, too – it’s one of our all-time top recipes!
But then, my food-obsessed brain kicked into high creative gear, and my corn chowder daydream took a little turn. What if … what if …
What if … there was a southwest kick to that corn chowder? (Yee-haw … I liked where this was going!) Maybe some tex-mex spices and green chile (not too spicy, but with big flavor!), and savory salsa, and really nutritious black beans, too! (Ohhh! I love this kind of daydream.) But, of course, this new corn chowder would still have all the creamy-dreamy sunshiny-sweet golden corn flavor of our original.
Yes, that was what I was dying to eat next!!! Ring … ring … (that’s me, calling my dear Gretchen.)
I’ve made this Southwestern Corn Chowder several times since, but I knew early on that I’d gotten it right – when my son’s little face lit up (we’re having that AGAIN – yay!), and my husband, who didn’t even know I was watching, made little, happy “mmm … mmmmmmmmm” sounds as he slurped. Then I started getting the gushingly yum-filled texts from family and neighbors I’d shared some corn chowder with (this recipe makes a larrrrrrge batch!).
This corn chowder is the prefect winter comfort food – like a spunky, sunny southwestern hug on a gray, chilly day! But it’s truly the ideal dinner year-round – even in the summer when you don’t want to heat up your house with your oven and stove. Just toss the ingredients for this corn chowder in your crock pot … load up the kiddies for a day at the zoo … and nosh on this with some sandwiches at dinner! Easy-breezy!
Ah, I love it when inspiration turns into something just as good as I’d imagined!
Now stop imagining this fantastic Southwestern Corn Chowder … and go make some for yourself! It’s so quick and easy … your yummy daydreams will be coming true in a snap!
- 3 cups nonfat milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 16-ounce bag frozen corn kernels
- 3 cups frozen O'Brien potatoes (cubed hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers)
- 2 cups frozen diced onions (see note)
- 2 14 3/4-ounce cans cream-style corn
- 1 16-ounce jar of your favorite salsa (see note)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans (preferably organic or reduced-sodium), rinsed and drained
- 1 4-ounce or 4.25-ounce can diced green chiles, undrained
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- For serving: chopped cilantro and shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, if desired
- Directly in your slow cooker insert, whisk together milk and cornstarch.
- Add corn, potatoes, onions, cream-style corn, salsa, black beans, green chiles, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin, black pepper, and oregano. Stir to combine thoroughly.
- Add chicken breasts to mixture, pushing them to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Cook on low (6-8 hours), or on high (5 hours).
- Just before serving, use two forks to shred chicken. Or, remove chicken from slow cooker onto a plate or cutting board and cut it into small cubes, and then return chicken to chowder in slow cooker.
- Serve chowder sprinkled with cilantro and cheese, if desired.
Frozen onions: For this recipe (as in our Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder and our Creamy Crock Pot Chicken Stew with Potatoes, Carrots and Tomatoes), we prefer to use frozen diced onions (as well as the frozen corn and potatoes) for two reasons. First, this saves the step of chopping the onions yourself and allows you to easily keep more of the ingredients for this corn chowder on hand for last-minute meals. Much more importantly, however, the frozen onions cook down better and become softer in the crock pot, especially if you're cooking this chowder at the faster end of the recommended cooking times. You can substitute fresh onion, chopped to equal 2 cups, if you would prefer your onions to be a bit more firm and crunchy in the final chowder.
Salsa: The salsa is a great way to easily vary the spiciness and flavor profile of this chowder. Choose mild, medium or spicy salsa, depending on your family's preferences.
Make-ahead and freezing tips: This corn chowder makes a really big batch, and it reheats beautifully on the stovetop or in the microwave, for lunches or additional dinners later in the week. It also freezes well, in an airtight freezer-safe container.