Cheap & Cheerful: Summer Corn and Heirloom Tomato Chowder

6 to 8 servings

Gluten free, dairy free, vegan

This recipe utilizes every local summer ingredient I could get my hands on. I recommend grilling the corn cobs if you can to help render their natural sugars and sweetness. If you don’t have access to a grill, simply cut off the kernels from the cobs and add to the pot. Instead of the usual suspect in chowder, Mr. Cream, I’ve used a can of coconut milk, so this recipe is fantastically vegan as well. This chowder is truly a taste of summer—it’s fresh, light and delivers the perfect amount of heat, just like the ideal summer’s day.

Cost Breakdown

Considering you have the following pantry items: olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne and garlic. You may even have more items on hand for more savings.

Shopping list

  • 1 yellow onion                                 $0.66
  • 3 fresh corn cobs (4 for $1.00)      $1.00
  • 1 pound heirloom tomatoes         $2.99
  • Low-sodium vegetable stock         $2.69
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk            $1.79
  • Fresh basil                                         $1.99
  • Fresh mint                                         $0.99

Total: $12.11 / 6 servings = $2.02 per serving


  • 3 large fresh corn cobs, shucked, rinsed and dried (about 3 cups of kernels)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for rubbing
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sprinkle of paprika
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pepper, to taste
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound heirloom tomatoes, varying color, roughly chopped (you can substitute beefsteak tomatoes if needed)
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped, plus a bit extra for garnish
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 2½ cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk


Preheat your grill to medium heat. If you don’t have a grill, skip the next few steps and proceed to cutting the corn kernels off of the cobs and setting aside.

Rub the corn cobs with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle a bit of salt and paprika onto the corn and rub all in well.

Grill the corn for a few minutes, rotating sides once during grilling to render its natural sugars and sweetness. You want a bit of color, almost burning, on the corn kernels.

Once you have achieved a bit of color, take the corn off of the grill. Turn off the heat and set aside until the cobs are cool enough to handle.

Once the corn cobs are cool, use a large knife to gently cut the kernels off of each cob and set aside till needed.

In a medium stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic along with a bit of salt and pepper, and cook until the onion starts to soften, about 4 minutes, stirring often.

Add the corn kernels and cayenne pepper to the pot, reserving a few kernels to garnish later. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, basil and mint to the pan. Stir well and cook to allow the tomatoes to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes, before adding the stock into the pan.

Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a gentle boil.

Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add in the coconut milk and stir to blend well. Cook a further 4 minutes on low heat. Taste and re-season if desired.

Transfer the soup to a large blender and carefully blend the soup until you have a somewhat smooth consistency, but some chunks remain. Be sure to hold the blender top down tightly. You may need to do this in batches, depending on your blender. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender directly in the pot to blend.

Serve either warm or chilled in deep bowls, garnished with a sprinkling of the reserved grilled corn kernels and a bit of fresh mint.

Nutrition Analysis: 210 cal, 17 g fat, 0 mg chol, 180 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 4 g protein.

Jilly Lagasse began cooking as a child when her father, Chef Emeril Lagasse, gave her a set of chef’s whites and let her help in the pastry and dessert department in one of his restaurants. She was diagnosed with celiac in 2004 and has written two gluten-free cookbooks with her sister, Jessie Lagasse Swanson, as the duo The Lagasse Girls,

Photo by Jilly Lagasse