Mexican Corn Chowder with Quinoa

I love food of all kinds – Italian, Moroccan, Lebanese, Greek, Indian….I just love food in general. But, my weakness is undoubtidly Latin food. Whenever I crave something, you can bet it’s some sort of Latin fare. A lot of the food I make at home has a Latin influence. Hot peppers, sweet chilies, tomatoes, black beans, avocados, limes, tomatillos, cumin, corn, cilantro, and fresh oregano…mmm!
When I stumbled upon this recipe for Mexican corn chowder about a year ago, I HAD to make it immediately. It not only contains all of my favourite Mexican flavours, but it also has a healthy dose of vegetables and quinoa. Since I first made this a year ago, it has become a staple in our home. Even if the ingredient list is relatively long, it’s an easy recipe to throw together and tends to use ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. The key to this recipe is letting the chowder simmer on medium-low heat for at least 45 minutes to allow the flavours to really come together. And it’s fun to get creative with the toppings. One of my favourite toppings is chopped avocado with a little lime juice. Cilantro always freshens up this soup. And chopped peanuts make a nice garnish to this chowder. This chowder is sure to impress – the perfect combination of spicy, sweet, and savory. ¡Buen Apetito! :)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic; minced
  • 1 large yellow onion; diced
  • 1 yellow pepper; diced
  • 1 red pepper; diced
  • 2 stalks of celery; chopped
  • 2 carrots; peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa; rinsed and drained
  • 1 small tin of green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon of ancho chile powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of dried mexican oregano
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground sweet paprika
  • 1/2 pound of waxy red potatoes; cleaned and diced small
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed & drained if frozen)
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 plum tomatoes; seeded & diced small
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream or soy creamer (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro, roasted chopped peanuts, diced red onion, diced green onion and/or chopped ripe avocado
1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-heat and add the chopped onions. Sauté the onions for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the yellow & red peppers, carrots, and celery and sauté for 8 minutes or until peppers are slightly softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
2. Add the rinsed quinoa to the pot and toss with the sautéed vegetables. Toss for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the quinoa begins to turn slightly golden.
3. Add the ancho chile powder, oregano, basil, cumin and paprika and fry with the sautéed vegetables for 1 minute.
4. Add the four cups of vegetable broth then the potatoes, green chilies and corn. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test the potatoes to ensure they are cooked through and ensure the quinoa is tender & translucent.
5. Stir in the tomatoes, cream/cream substitute, red wine vinegar and lime juice. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: If soup is too thick, add 1/2 cup of water followed by 1/4 cup of cream/cream substitute until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat.
6. Allow the soup to rest off of the heat for 10 minutes and then serve. Garnish as desired.
Source: adapted from Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero


  1. says

    this chili looks delicious! i appreciate its light, yellow color compared to most dark red/mud colored chilis. and since i’m such a lover of quinoa, it’s extra appealing ;)

  2. says

    I absolutely love how this chowder uses Quinoa – this looks like the perfect recipe for me and a nice chnage of pace from the traditional corn chowder; I can’t wait to give this a try; I am thinking this might just be on the menu for tonight!

  3. says

    This sounds amazing! I might have to do some hunting to find mexican oregano and ancho chili powder, but I definitely have to try this!

  4. says

    Yum, that sounds so flavourful! I’m sure it would be even tastier in the summer with fresh local corn. I still haven’t tried using quinoa in a soup or stew, but I love the idea!

  5. Anonymous says

    Hey, I was just wondering, if I made this the day before, do you think it would still be good, or would the quinoa soak up all the broth? Also, what would be the best way to reheat this?

  6. says

    Yum! This sounds like my kind of chowder! I’ve been on a bit of a soup kick lately, so this is definitely going on my to-make list. I’m like you with flavors – I love ’em all, but cannot get enough of cumin, black beans, corn… along the same lines with the cumin flavor, I get drawn into Indian cuisine a lot, too.

    Also – I just discovered your blog, and am absolutely loving it! I jumped right on that follow button. :)

    • says

      Awe, I am thrilled to hear that you love my blog :) You are so sweet! I’m glad & grateful to have you as a reader Willow :) I follow your blog as well. AWESOME blog!!!

  7. says

    This chowder looks wonderful. I was just wondering if you can make it ahead or if the quinoa soaks up the liquid as it sits.

    • says

      Hey Denise! :) Yes, you are correct. The quinoa does absorb a fair amount of the liquid. However, I find, if I add a tablespoon or two of water to the chowder before re-heating it, the consistency is perfect again :)

  8. Missy says

    I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I would suggest a correction to your directions. You said to add 4 cups of water, but this should be 4 cups of vegetable broth. I read the directions as I was making it, added the water, and then wondered when I was to add the vegetable broth :-) Still delicious!

    • thefigtree says

      Hey! Thanks for pointing that out :) I fixed it right up. I am so glad you enjoyed this dish. One of my favs! :)

  9. says

    Just found you through Oh My Veggies–great guest post! I’m always looking for a good vegetarian corn chowder and this looks super amazing!! I love the protein boost from the quinoa–can’t wait to give this a try :)

    • thefigtree says

      Thank you! :) I appreciate you stopping by to leave a comment. The Mexican Quinoa Corn Chowder is one of my favs. So delicious! Let me know what you think if you make it. Hope you enjoy it! Have a great weekend. xo

  10. says

    You’ve really caught my attention with all of the chile in this dish. Delicious! I definitely need to give this one a try.

    • thefigtree says

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Your blog is fantastic! So glad you posted a comment, so I could find your blog too :)


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