corn chowder in bowl

Panera is known for serving dozens of great sandwiches and salads, but its variety of soup is among the most popular on the wide-ranging menu. The restaurant chain features different soups all year round, but there’s just something special about getting to enjoy it in the colder months. Panera’s corn chowder, in particular, is incredibly delicious, thanks to the melody of vegetables and its thick, potato-based broth.

Recipe developer Kate Shungu came up with this copycat recipe that is just as easy to make at home as it would be to venture out, and get a bowl from Panera. "I love how the combination of ingredients in this recipe makes a really flavorful soup," Shungu raves. "The variety of textures is a nice bonus, too! I love being able to make a large quantity of soup for a much lower price than I can get at the grocery store, or at the restaurant," she says.

Keep reading to find out how to make this comforting soup.

Gather the ingredients for this copycat Panera corn chowder recipe

corn chowder ingredients

You will need to make a big pit stop in the produce section for most of the ingredients in this recipe. Pick up russet potatoes, frozen corn, vegetable stock, butter, red pepper, poblano pepper, and garlic cloves. You will also need salt, black beans, chipotle chili powder, heavy cream, lime juice, and cilantro.

Once you have those things, you can whip up this delicious and easy copycat Panera corn chowder.

Simmer the corn chowder

potatoes and corn in saucepan

First peel the skin off 1 of the potatoes. Next, dice that potato into small cubes, which helps it to cook faster. Then, add the diced potato, half the frozen corn, and 2 cups of vegetable stock in a large saucepan. Crank the heat up, bringing the mixture to a boil.

Once the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue cooking for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Blend the potato mixture

potatoes and corn in blender

Add the contents of the saucepan into a blender, and blend until nice and smooth. Shungu suggests leaving a vent at the top of the blender to allow the steam from the hot mixture to exit while blending everything together. "The special technique here is to blend part of the corn, and part of the potatoes together to make a purée," Shungu shares. "It adds richness to the soup without having to add tons of heavy cream." Once complete, set the blended mixture aside.

Cook the peppers

peppers in a saucepan

Using the same saucepan, add the butter. Turn the heat to medium, and wait for the butter to melt. Next, add the chopped red and poblano peppers, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. When the 4 to 5 minutes are up, add the minced garlic, and cook for another 30 seconds.

Simmer the soup again

potatoes and pepper in saucepan

Go ahead, and peel and dice the second potato. Toss it in the saucepan with the peppers, and add the remaining 1 ½ cups of vegetable stock, followed by the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once bubbles reach the surface, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the contents of the saucepan for 10 to 12 minutes, checking again to ensure that the potatoes are fork-tender.

Toss in the remaining ingredients

soup ingredients in saucepan

Now, it’s time to add in the remaining corn, black beans, chipotle chili powder, heavy cream, lime juice, and puréed corn mixture. Let everything cook together for a few minutes, ensuring that all of the veggies are thoroughly heated. "Just cook the soup long enough for everything to get warm throughout," Shungu notes. "You don’t want to overcook the corn or black beans."

Add cilantro, and serve the soup

corn chowder in bowl

The last thing you want to do is add the chopped cilantro, and give the soup mixture a few good stirs to combine. Then, ladle the soup into bowls, and top with the remaining cilantro if you wish.

"I love serving this with a hunk of crusty french bread," Shungu suggests of a side pairing. Be sure to keep anything you don’t eat. "Leftovers will keep for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend freezing the soup, as the freezing/defrosting process will negatively affect the texture," Shungu notes.

Copycat Panera Corn Chowder Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 medium russet potatoes, divided
  • 12 ounces frozen corn, divided
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable stock, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup black beans
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, or 1 minced chipotle in adobo
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Peel and dice 1 of the potatoes. Place it in a saucepan with half the frozen corn, and 2 cups of vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a blender, and blend until smooth. Leave it vent in the top of the blender to allow steam to escape while blending. Set aside.
  3. In the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the red pepper and poblano pepper, and cook until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Peel and dice the second potato. Add to the saucepan along with the remaining 1½ cups vegetable stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Stir in the remaining corn, black beans, chipotle chili powder, heavy cream, lime juice, and puréed corn mixture. Let cook for a few minutes, just to warm everything through.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve warm with additional chopped cilantro on top.

Nutrition

Calories per Serving 366
Total Fat 15.9 g
Saturated Fat 9.5 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 50.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 48.3 g
Dietary Fiber 7.8 g
Total Sugars 4.7 g
Sodium 431.9 mg
Protein 11.3 g