Corn and green chile soup

Corn and green chile soup DSC6549

The legendary cookbook author Fannie Farmer once wrote that corn is not worth eating unless it’s August. I wholeheartedly agree and enjoy my fair share this time of year. If you’re like me, your kitchen has probably been covered in corn silk the past few days.

Most of the time, I’m content to simply broil it and then slap it with some cheese, chili powder, and mayonnaise and call it a day. Or sometimes, I may get a little more fancy and make a batch of jalapeño creamed corn. Lately, however, I’d been craving corn soup, so last week I set out to make one I could enjoy.

In search of inspiration, I spent some time leafing through my cookbooks. Most had at least one recipe to choose from with Diana Kennedy’s “The Cuisines of Mexico” offering three. Lest someone think that was excessive for one book, she wrote, “I make no excuses for including recipes for three corn soups.” Indeed. Though after browsing through all my books it turned out that the soup I sought could easily be done with an adaption of one of my own.

Corn and green chile soup | Homesick Texan

In my first cookbook, I have a corn soup made with bacon and jalapeños. It’s creamy, smoky, and rich, and many of you have told me that it’s one of your favorites. While I also agree that it’s very good, I wanted to give it more of a Tex-Mex flair and turn it into something new.

My first change was to use corn broth in the soup. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s simply a quick broth made with corncobs and aromatics. When you have fresh corn, after you’re removed the kernels the cob still holds a lot of flavor and starch. It would be a waste not to extract every last bit of this, as the cob not only lends flavor to the final soup but also helps thicken it as well. If you can stand the extra heat, making a batch of corn broth is well worth the effort.

Corn and green chile soup | Homesick Texan

Second, if you’re in Texas, then you are probably aware that it’s Hatch chile time. To celebrate, I wanted to use flavorful long green chiles in my soup instead of fiery jalapeños. I also took out the bacon, which does make a fine addition to corn soup, but it can quickly dominate and I wanted the soup to have a more pure corn flavor. For tang, I added a quick pour of buttermilk to the pot. And lastly, I topped each bowl with crumbles of queso fresco. In short, my new soup tasted like Mexican street corn had become more relaxed, fluid, and free.

This corn and green chile soup is wonderful on its own, as it’s rather filling with all the corn kernels and green chiles swimming in the creamy broth. You can also serve it alongside a quesadilla for a Tex-Mex take on soup and grilled cheese. A salad on the side works, too. And if you have a big appetite, throwing in some fish, shrimp, or cooked chicken to the pot will easily turn the soup into a hearty one-pot meal.

Corn and green chile soup | Homesick Texan

Either way you serve it, however, I think you will agree this corn and green chile soup is late summer in a bowl. And since it’s August and busy days will be here soon enough, my plan is to savor the season for as long as I can.

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Corn and green chile soup DSC6549
5 from 3 votes

Corn and green chile soup

Servings 6
Author Lisa Fain


Ingredients for the soup:

  • 4 Hatch or Anaheim chiles
  • 6 ears corn, shucked or 4 cups corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups corn broth, recipe below or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crumbled queso fresco or feta, for garnishing
  • 1 lime cut into slices, for serving

Ingredients for the corn broth:

  • 4 corncobs, kernels removed
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Roast the Hatch or Anaheim chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes. After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from both the chiles and cut into thin, inch-long strips.

  2. Meanwhile, while the chiles are roasting and steaming, if using fresh ears of corn, remove the kernels with a knife. If you don’t have a preferred corn-removal method, here’s mine: I like to lay the cob horizontal on the cutting board with the cob pointing away from me. While holding the cob in one hand, I place a 10-inch knife down the length of one side of the cob and slice off the kernels. I then rotate the cob, placing the newly cut flattened side on the board for stability and keeping it pointed away from me, I repeat until all the kernels are off the cob. I can usually remove the corn from each cob in 4 to 5 cuts.

  3. Once you’ve removed all the kernels, if you’re feeling ambitious you can make a quick corn broth. (If it’s too hot to have a pot going on the stove for 20 minutes, or you’re not using fresh corn, skipping this step and using chicken broth is fine, too.)

  4. To make the corn broth, take 4 of the cobs (discarding the rest), and one at a time, stand each cob upright in a 3-quart pot and run the flat side of a knife down the cob to extract all the corn milk. Once you’ve done that for all the cobs, lay the cobs in the pot along with the onion, bay leaf, and salt. Pour in 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 20 minutes, and then turn off the heat and strain the broth. You should have about 3 cups. If you have more than that, you can either reduce it or save it for another use. If you have less than 3 cups, just add water until you have that amount.

  5. To make the soup, in a 3-quart pot melt 1 tablespoon of the butter on medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.

  6. Turn off the heat and transfer the onions and garlic to a blender. Add to the blender 3 cups of the corn kernels (reserving the remaining 1 cup), cumin, cayenne, nutmeg, and 2 cups of broth. Blend until smooth, which depending on your blender can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 4 minutes. That said, if the corn is tough, it might never get velvety smooth. If that’s the case, you can either leave it a little lumpy or strain the puree through a mesh strainer.

  7. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the pot on medium-low heat and pour in the corn puree. Cook for 2 minutes while occasionally stirring, then add the final 1 cup of broth, the reserved 1 cup of corn, the green chiles, the half and half, and the buttermilk. Cook for 3-5 more minutes or until the soup is warm and the corn is tender. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.

  8. Serve warm topped with queso fresco and with limes on the side for additional flavor, if desired. Alternatively, you can refrigerate the soup for at least 4 hours, and enjoy it chilled.

  1. Anna Griner

    Ah, the conundrum of corn soup! This combines the best of August produce in Texas, but it's going to be 104 today and I can barely turn on the stovetop, let alone eat hot soup! I may have to crank up the A/C for a bit so I can enjoy this one!

  2. Corn broth! Ooh. Need to make this for my littlest sister, whose birthday is in August and really loves corn.

  3. Lisa Fain

    Anna–So true! Though it's definitely worth the 30 minutes of cook time. Also, if you make it the night before when it's cooler outside and then chill it, it's also good cold.

  4. Lisa Fain

    Ileana–It's a must for any corn lover, especially one who was born in August!

  5. thejameskitchen

    Corn broth, I am intrigued. Being a fan of all of the above mentioned corn soups, Diana Kennedy's and definitely your bacon-jalapeno version, I can't wait to get home and make some soon. Just need to work out a fitting replacement for Hatch or Anaheim chiles…

  6. I am another HOMESICK TEXAN…in south Florida (Delray Beach) for 15 years …finding your recipes have been a godsend! I have one question…why aren't your things connected to PINTEREST? I want to have a section in my pinterest of just your things . Love your recipes and share them all the time with my FACEBOOK friends 🙂

  7. Rebecca

    It is sooo good to have you back posting again…
    During the summer I often save the corn cobs and make and can corn cob broth for the winter months.

  8. Rocky Mountain Woman

    Yep, I need a batch of that this weekend!

  9. Lisa Fain

    Nicole–Poblanos would work, if you have access to those. If you have access to canned green chiles, that would work, too, as they're usually made with Anaheim chiles.

  10. Lisa Fain

    Brenda–Thank you for sharing my posts on Facebook! If you want to save each post on Pinterest, just click the green "Share it" button at the end and it should take you there. Also, here's a link to my Pinterest page, which also has all my posts.

  11. Lisa Fain

    Rebecca–It's good to be back! Thank you! And that's a great idea to save it for later. There's nothing like a taste of summer to warm you up when it's cold outside.

  12. Lisa Fain

    Rocky Mountain Woman–I believe you do!

  13. Kathie E.

    Thank you! I've got those Hatch that I roasted and this will be perfect! 🙂

  14. Lisa Fain

    Kathie–You're welcome! Hope you enjoy it!

  15. Anonymous

    Ooooh, this does sound wonderful! Will be trying it very soon.

    Want to add that you can also make corn jelly with the corn broth. I haven't tried it yet, but all the recipes are simply the cobs boiled in water without the added veg then make as any other jelly. Corncobs have lots of pectin evidently.


  16. Lisa Fain

    Patricia–I've heard of corn jelly and have always been curious about it. Thanks for the reminder–I might have to make some!

  17. August 11 — It's Hatch time.
    Are you having some sent up? (yes? hope?)
    If not, will you be re-posting something inspirational?

  18. Lisa Fain

    Jim–This recipe calls for Hatch chiles!

  19. Andrea Giunta

    What a great recipe! Thank you 🙂 I changed it a bit by using poblanos, as I had them already. I also used all cream instead of the half and half plus buttermilk. I eliminated the nutmeg. What was created was a rich, creamy corn and poblano kick that can't be beat! I love the corn broth idea. I would have never thought of that! The soup was a starter for a simple summer dinner party of tacos carnitas with peach crisp for dessert.

  20. Peggasus

    I just made my second batch of this, it's soooo delicious! No Hatch chiles in East Central Illinois, so I used roasted poblanos instead. And of course we have excellent sweet corn here. I must admit I ate most of it cold, spoonful by spoonful, straight out of the fridge. Thank you!

  21. Lisa Fain

    Andrea–Your version sounds great–I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

    Peggasus–It's pretty good cold, isn't it? Perfect for hot days!

  22. Janet Martin

    SO delicious! I rarely add bacon to my corn chowder because it ends up being the predominant flavor. I recently purchased some very hot Hatch chilis, so for this soup used 1 of those and 4 store roasted mild ones. I don’t much like cutting the corn off the cob raw, so cooked the full ears for about 10 minutes in the broth, removed them, cut off the kernels to save for the soup–isn’t saving burned fingers what those little corn holders are for–and added the cobs back into the broth. I really love this lighter soup. DH, however, wanted something more hearty, so I added some chopped rotisserie chicken to his bowl.

  23. Hi Lisa! I had a question: it’s the end of hatch chile time and I grabbed the most I could and thought I would make two batches of this soup and freeze them. Do you think that this would be a good idea? I don’t have a lot of experience with freezing food and thawing it months later to eat so I’m unsure if I want to go that route for the last of my chiles!

    • Lisa Fain

      Lauren–While I’ve never frozen this soup, most soups do freeze well and I reckon this one would be the same.

  24. Michelle

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice for my family and they love it! I altered it a bit for my instant pot. I saute the onions and spices in butter first, then I add everything else and set the instant pot for 8-10 minutes. I use frozen organic corn instead of cobs. I left out the buttermilk both times (hard to find in Hawaii), but I added some cream the first time and it’s just as delicious with or without it. The key is in the spices (I use extra because we love spice) and the chiles….sooo yummy. Thank you for this recipe!

    • Lisa Fain

      Michelle–Thank you for sharing your Instant Pot adaptations! They will be useful to many, I’m sure. And I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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