Can't get enough of sweet summer corn? This copycat Panera corn chowder is just what you want on a hot summer's day. It's creamy, full of sweet corn kernels, and has a hint of Tex-Mex spice.
All the ingredients for this Panera summer corn chowder are easy to find at a large grocery store. Fresh summer corn will taste the best, rather than canned or frozen. Poblano peppers are found near the jalapeño and bell peppers, and the mirin (rice wine) is found in the Asian section or online.
- Dairy: We used unsalted butter and heavy whipping cream.
- Vegetables: We used poblano peppers, red bell peppers, yellow onion, fresh garlic, red potatoes, and fresh yellow corn with kernels cut off the cob.
- Flour: To make the roux, we used all-purpose flour.
- Liquor: We used mirin (rice wine) to deglaze the pot.
- Broth: We used vegetable broth as the base, not chicken broth.
- Dried spices: We used cayenne, garlic powder, turmeric, white pepper, and salt.
- Fresh herbs: We used cilantro. If you substitute with parsley, it will taste different.
- Citrus: We used freshly squeezed limes.
Yes, it is. Panera uses all vegetarian friendly ingredients for this popular summer soup. They don't use chicken broth as the base, and all the other ingredients are plant-based.
Panera's chowder has 320 calories, 34g carbs, 20g fat, and 5g protein per serving. Our copycat version has 283 calories, 35g carbs, 15g fat, and 5g protein. For more nutritional information, please scroll to the end of the recipe card.
The popularity for this summer corn chowder grows each year and it's no wonder why. Each spoonful is full of vegetables and has a south of the border taste.
Panera uses sweet cream for their summer corn chowder, but you can make our copycat recipe and substitute with full fat coconut milk for people who are lactose intolerant or vegan.
Summer corn chowder is only at Panera Bread restaurants for a limited time each summer. It's normally on the menu from mid-June to mid-September, but Panera Bread tweeted on April, 4 2021 that they would be bringing it back soon, so they decided to expand the time it's on the menu for 2021.
Serve this summer corn chowder like Panera does with a large chunk of French baguette, plain kettle chips, or a crisp apple. Or try this summer corn chowder with Panera's upgraded sides: summer fruit cup or tomato basil cucumber salad.
This copycat summer corn chowder is also great on it's own for a light lunch, or round out your meal with crusty bread, a fresh garden salad, roasted vegetables, or jalapeño cornbread. If you're looking to serve this corn chowder as a small side, serve baked chicken or grilled salmon as your main dish.
If you have any leftovers, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, pour the chowder into a heavy bottomed sauce pan or Dutch oven and heat on medium to medium low until hot. Don't bring the chowder to a boil, or it could separate.
This chowder doesn't freeze well because of the potatoes and dairy.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for Panera summer corn chowder.
In a heavy bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high heat. Saute the onion, poblano and red bell peppers until soft, stirring occasionally, roughly 5 minutes then cook the garlic until fragrant while constantly stirring .
Sprinkle on the flour and whisk for 2 minutes to cook the flour.
Deglaze the pan by slowly pouring in the rice wine (mirin) while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden turner. Slowly pour in ½ cup of vegetable broth and continue scraping until the bottom is clean.
Slowly whisk in the rest of the vegetable broth. Add the diced potatoes and the salt. Stir, then cover. Bring to a boil, then cook with the lid askew for 6 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Add the dried spices, fresh corn kernels, fire roasted salsa, and fresh cilantro. Stir until well combined. Cover and cook on medium low for 8 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir well.
Serve while still hot with a garnish of fresh cilantro.
- Need this gluten free? Use your favorite gluten free flour instead of all-purpose.
- Need this vegan or dairy free? Use full fat coconut milk, vegan butter, or margarine.
- Need meat? Add bacon, shredded chicken, ground sausage or shrimp.
- Need more umami flavor? Add 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast with the spices.
- Want this thicker? Puree 2 cups of the soups and stir it back in.
- Want additional garnishes: Cut up 2 Roma tomatoes, with seeds removed.
- Use fresh corn, as it is sweeter than frozen. Cut the corn off the cob by standing the cob in the center of a bundt pan to catch the kernels and to reduce the mess.
- Use freshly squeezed lime juice, as it is fresher than bottled lime juice.
- Deglaze the pot with rice wine.
Check out our other Panera soup recipes:
- Baked Potato Soup
- Bistro French Onion Soup
- Black Bean Soup
- Creamy Tomato Soup
- 10 Vegetable Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Turkey Chili
- Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
- Autumn Squash
- Broccoli Cheddar
Check out our Panera Bakery copycat recipes:
- Black Pepper Focaccia
- Tomato Basil Bread
- Kitchen Sink Cookies
- Lemon Drop Cookies
- Chocolate Chipper Cookies
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Panera Summer Corn Chowder Copycat
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced
- ½ cup poblano pepper, diced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour or gluten free flour
- ¼ cup mirin
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups red potatoes with skins, cut in ¼-inch cubes, (3 medium potatoes)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 4 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob (6 cobs)
- ¾ cup roasted jalapeño and tomato salsa, such as Frontera medium
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot over medium high heat, then saute the peppers and onions for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Sprinkle on the flour, and whisk for 2 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium high and slowly pour in the rice wine while scraping the bottom with a wooden turner to get the brown bits off. Slowly add ½ cup of vegetable broth and continue scraping until the bottom of the pot is clean.
- Slowly pour in the rest of the vegetable broth, whisking to prevent lumps, then add the diced potatoes and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon, cover, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low and partially cover. Simmer for 6 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
- Add the dried spices, fresh corn kernels, salsa, and fresh cilantro. Stir, cover, and cook on medium low heat for 8 minutes. (If you would like this thicker than in the photos above, take out 2 cups and puree it in a blender then stir it back into the soup.)
- Remove the soup from the heat and pour in the heavy cream and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir well.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and serve hot with a baguette, kettle chips, or an apple, like Panera does.
- If you need this gluten free, use your favorite gluten free flour.
- If you need this vegan or dairy free, use full fat coconut milk, vegan butter, and 1 Tb. nutritional yeast.
- Cut the corn off the cob by standing the cob in the center of a bundt pan to catch the kernels and to reduce the mess.
- Use freshly squeezed lime juice, as it is fresher than bottled lime juice. A citrus press is especially helpful for this step.