Corn Chowder with Smoked Ham

A spicy corn chowder with smoked ham and chile powders


This Corn Chowder with Smoked Ham uses the standard ingredients of a corn chowder – potatoes, corn and some type of stock – but smoked ham is used in placed of bacon.  A variety of ground peppers and mustard powder are used for the seasoning which makes it a little spicy, but more as a finish than a dominating flavor.  A small amount of cream is used as a thickener along with a touch of cornstarch.  One could always add cheese, but we didn’t see the need for it.  The chowder was creamy enough without it, but actually a lighter chowder in comparison. “This is a keeper!”

Corn Chowder with Smoked Ham

A spicy corn chowder with smoked ham and chile powders

Corn Chowder with Smoked Ham Recipe
30 mins
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr

An simple chowder made with corn and smoke ham, a little cream and lots of flavor.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Main Course, soups & stews
Cuisine: American
Yields: 4 servings
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. chile infused oil or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (~2 cups)
  • ½ large sweet bell pepper, chopped (~1 cup)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups diced smoked ham, (~12 ounces)
  • 3 cups stock - chicken or turkey
  • 2 - 3 cups water
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, chopped into ¼” cubes (~2 cups)
  • 2 cups corn - frozen, fresh, canned
  • ½ tsp. chipotle powder
  • ½ tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme, crushed
  • ½ tsp. ground white pepper
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup cream
  • ~1 to 2 tsp. cornstarch (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard leaves, chopped (optional*)
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and slowly sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute’ for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the smoked ham and saute’ for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the stock and 2 cups water. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the potatoes, chipotle powder, paprika, mustard powder, and thyme. Bring back to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.
  6. Add the corn, Swiss chard (if using) and white pepper. (Add more water if needed) Simmer for another 15 minutes.
  7. Taste. Add salt if needed.
  8. As the soup simmers, add the cream. Stir constantly over medium heat until the soup starts to thicken.
  9. If you want to thicken the soup faster or more than is provided by the cream, sift 1 to 2 tsp. cornstarch (as needed) into the soup and bring to a high simmer, stirring constantly until desired thickness is reached. 
  10. Remove from heat. If possible, let the soup cool for 2 to 4 hours.
  11. Reheat and serve.
Kitchen Notes

Potato – Yukon gold potato or Russet are good potatoes for chowder because, once cooked, they are soft enough to crumble and break up as the soup cooks, providing a thickener.  Once the potato is soft use the stirring spoon and press some of the potatoes pieces against the side of the pot to break them up. This helps to thicken the soup.  Red potatoes don’t soften as much so if you don’t like your potatoes to break, then use red potatoes.


Corn – Fresh or frozen corn works best in my opinion.  You could used canned, but since it’s already cooked and soft, add it in Step 6 after simmering for 10 minutes.


Cornstarch – If you are gluten intolerant, then cornstarch is the best thickener.  Most cornstarch is gluten-free because it’s made from corn, but you never know what manufacturers might add. So check the box.  Only add the cornstarch if you want your chowder thicker.  We normally don’t add it.


My most common method of thickening a soup or gravy, especially when I just need a little thickening, is to slowly sift the cornstarch or flour into the soup and stir as I sift.  The smaller particles prevent clumping but also cause the soup to thicken faster because the smaller particles provide a larger reaction surface.


Swiss chard – The Swiss chard was an addition to the recipe in the fall of 2017. I had some fresh picked chard, so I chopped it up and threw it in the soup.  It made a hearty soup even heartier and healthier.  I highly recommend it.


Suggested sides – Warm corn or flour tortillas, crackers,  or a nice side salad.



A spicy corn chowder with smoked ham and chile powders


If you like this chowder, you might also like my vegetarian Calabacitas Chowder made with summer squash, corn and green chile.







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75 Responses to “Corn Chowder with Smoked Ham”

  1. shravani December 8, 2016 at 8:38 am #

    Hi mj…loved this hot Corn Chowder with Smoked Ham, its a perfect one for these cold winter days.

    • mj December 8, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

      Thanks so much Shravani! So glad you like it! It is a wonderful soup for a cold day. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Carlee January 15, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    I love corn chowders, and this one looks especially delicious. This is the perfect time of year for a big bowl of this!

    • mj January 16, 2016 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks so much Carlee!

  3. Margaret January 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    We’re having a cold winter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Your Corn Chowder looks like a perfect way to warm up and get through this cold spell!

    • mj January 16, 2016 at 10:08 am #

      That it is! Thanks for stopping by Margaret!

  4. Joanne T Ferguson February 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    G’day! What a warm and welcoming winter dish! YUM!
    Great photos!
    View as part of Nancy’s YBR Jan Round Up
    Cheers! Joanne

  5. Adele Forbes February 4, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    That has made my stomach growl…looks simply delicious, thank you for sharing

  6. Terra January 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    I would’ve swore I left a comment on this post….I did drool over it for sure!!! Corn chowder is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes. I love that you added ham instead of bacon, the smokey and salty flavors would be perfect! Gorgeous, Hugs, Terra

    • Terra January 28, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

      Okay, just noticed my previous comment….I blame the wine on my silly mistake LOL! Cheers!!!

      • mj January 28, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

        LOL!!! I thought you had already commented here. Nothing wrong with two! 🙂 And yes, it’s always good to blame it on the wine.

  7. April @ The 21st Century Housewife January 28, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    MJ, your Corn Chowder with Smoked Ham looks delicious. It’s such a wholesome recipe too – lovely and warming for these cold winter days!

  8. Terra January 27, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    Corn chowder is one of my top favorite soups. I love that you used ham instead of bacon, I bet it gives the soup a delicious smokey flavor. I hope you are doing well! Your recipe sounds fabulous!!! Hugs, Terra

  9. Charles January 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    People don’t eat nearly enough of this kind of thing around here. Talk about the perfect comfort food when it’s cold outside. Was -27 Celsius today so I definitely could have done with some of this!

  10. Nami | Just One Cookbook January 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Corn chowder is my son and my favorite! We can finish a big pot of chowder just by ourselves… 😀 I should try smoked ham next time. Never tried it with ham. And corn starch! I never thought of that. I usually use flour but this is another thing I want to test it out. Your chowder looks so perfect. I can seriously eat it three meals a day… I wish!

  11. Bill January 15, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    I wish I’d seen this recipe a week ago. I had ham for New Year’s as well and i would have loved a recipe like this. I can get fresh corn at our farmer’s market year round so I’m going to keep this recipe for the next time I have ham. Thanks for sharing this great recipe, MJ!

    • mj January 16, 2014 at 9:48 am #

      Thanks Bill! I’m so jealous that you can get fresh corn year round! I won’t se. It again until August.

  12. Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style January 15, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    I love how your photography captures the down-home country nature of this dish, MJ. It looks delicious!

  13. Raymund January 15, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    What a nice recipe, chowder is always a good comfort meal.

  14. Katerina January 15, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    I love the spices you used and I love its creamy velvety texture!

  15. Nancy/SpicieFoodie January 14, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    I have only made corn chowder once and it didn’t look or sound anything like yours. This recipe does sound and look like a keeper. Thanks for sharing and hope you are doing well.

    • mj January 16, 2014 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks so much Nancy! I don’t make chowder often, but I love it when I make it.

  16. Anne@FromMySweetHeart January 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    Oh this is beautiful MJ! My favorite kinds of soups or chowders always contain corn…and lots of it! I always make a split pea soup with my leftover hams….but this looks just delicious! This chowder, will most definitely, get me through the rest of my winter! : )

    • mj January 16, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      Thanks Anne! I, too, used it in split pea, but this time I did having any peas but did have lots of corn. So chowder it was. 🙂

  17. Minnie@thelady8home January 14, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    I love the way you spice up even the most ordinary of dishes and make them look special. Infused chili oil and smoked ham in a chowder – this chowder delights the senses.

    • mj January 16, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      Thanks so much Minnie! I love a bite of heat so spicing up delicious is like adding salt. 🙂

  18. Giulietta | Alterkitchen January 14, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    This chowder looks delicious, MJ!
    And I love the touch of smoked ham in it!

    • mj January 16, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      Thanks Giuliani! The smoked ham was really a great addition.

  19. Vicki Bensinger January 14, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    You have no idea how much I love corn chowder. I’ve actually never made it because my husband isn’t a fan so I figured why bother. This recipe looks amazing. I’ll have to check out the Cheddar Corn Chowder recipe too. I may have to make this anyone and just save what I don’t eat a place in the freezer. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

    • mj January 16, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      Thanks Vicki! I have to ask ” how can any one not like chowder?” 🙂 I know what you mean about why bother? It’s hard to make a big pot of soup for one.

  20. Sarah | The Sugar Hit January 14, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    This looks absolutely gorgeous – the sweet corn with the salty ham would be a perfect match!

  21. Nads January 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    I really like corn chowder in general, but this one looks decadent! I think I still have some leftover ham and ham stock too. I don’t have any cream but lots of leftover buttermilk.(I think Brynn thought she was going to make enough pies for an army.) That should work, yes?! I’ll let you know because we are having this tomorrow night.

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

      Oh, the ham stock would be great with this! That’s funny about Brynn and the buttermilk. 🙂 Since you don’t have cream, I would recommend just using milk and a little more cornstarch. I think the buttermilk would add too much of a sour taste. BTW – I’ve got a quiche in the oven for which I had to use buttermilk (no cream here either) based on your recommendation. I’ll let you know how we like it. 🙂

  22. Renee @ Tortillas and Honey January 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    Yum! This chowder looks so good, it’s perfect for this chilly (and windy!) weather that we are having. I might just have to make this! 😉

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      Thanks Renee! It was great for today. I had a bowl when I got back from the co-op. Boy was it chilly!

  23. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz January 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Smoked ham is so perfect for a corn chowder, really giving a nice depth for the flavor, looks wonderful.

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne!

  24. The Wimpy Vegetarian January 13, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    This looks like the perfect combination of smoky, creamy, comfort with some spice. I really love this MJ. Does the long cooling at the end help to infuse the flavors?

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

      Thanks Susan! Yes, the cooling does help to infuse the flavors. I always try to let my soups rest by at least letting them come to room temperature then reheating. Overnight is best.

  25. wok with ray January 13, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Oh yes with the smoked ham, I would definitely have two bowls my friend. This corn chowder looks so creamy, rich, and full of flavor. Great week to you MJ! 🙂

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

      Thanks Ray! I have to admit that I’ve finally had my fill of chowder. 🙂 I’ve had a bowl of chowder about 8 out of the past 10 days. 🙂 And a great week to you as well!

  26. Asmita January 13, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    This looks insanely delicious and so perfect for this weather!

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      Thanks so much Asmita!

  27. sonia January 12, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Hi There, The soup is looking terrific !!!!! It’s wonderful to see your each and every post. I simply adore your work ! And hope to see more of your creative endeavors soon ! Bookmarked this one and shall give it a shot :)) Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      Oh Sonia…you are so sweet! Thanks for the comments! I hope you get a chance to try this chowder. Please let me know if you do.

  28. Sissi January 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    MJ, I haven’t tasted either but I am 100% sure your chowder is the best. I have never had chowder, but from what I have read and heard about it, smoked ham is dream company for corn. It looks irresistible on each single photo!

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi! Actually, I’m surprised there aren’t more chowders with smoked ham. Bacon (which is the normal pork for chowders) is smoked pork, so I guess it’s “somewhat” the same. When I added the smoked ham I was thinking exactly what you pointed out…that smoked ham is dream company for corn.:)

  29. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles January 12, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    I’ve never made a corn chowda’! What’s the matta’ with me!! 🙂 This looks like the kind of smokey goodness that is simply perfect this time of year. Warming, hearty and healthy at the same time. Love your seasonings MJ — I would have eaten two bowls with you ;-). Going to check-out your girlfriend’s version…

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

      Whoa is me! What’s wrong with ya girl? No chowda!!? 🙂 Well, you need to change this. To be honest, I usually don’t make a traditional chowda because of all of the dairy. I can handle a little dairy, but not much. My calabacitas chowder has no dairy and this one, very little compared to most. Therefore, it hasn’t bothered me at all. YAY!

  30. Soni January 12, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Love smoked ham and can totally imagine the delicious flavors in your soup!Looks like a great soup for this time of the year!

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

      Thanks so much Soni!

  31. Abbe @ Abbe's Cooking Antics January 12, 2014 at 3:09 am #

    It must be fate – I have a ham roasting in the oven right now and I’ll never use it all with dinner… and I’m in need of soup. I’m poorly. Oh woe is me. If someone sneezes in Australia (half a world away) I catch a cold.

    That really does look like heaven in a bowl, MJ.

    Happy New Year, my lovely *blows big kiss* XXX

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

      Oh Abbe, so sorry that you’re doing poorly. 🙁 This soup would really help perk you up. I hope you feel like making any soup soon. XOXOXO Catch that kiss!

  32. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef January 12, 2014 at 1:12 am #

    I haven’t had a girlfriends potluck for years – what a great idea. I need some girly talk and good food. 🙂

    This looks really good – even in this heat.

    • mj January 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! It’s the first girlfriends’ potluck we had in a LONG time and it was so much fun! I would highly recommend one!

  33. Liz January 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Oh, how I love corn chowder! And with a ham hock? Great idea!

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks Liz!

  34. Ramona January 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Wow.. this is my kind of hearty, stick to your ribs delicious soup!! I would love to have a big bowl of this today… it’s pouring rain and rain makes me crave soup. Beautiful job 🙂

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks Ramona! Oh yes – rain, snow, sleet – this soup works. 😉

  35. Angie@Angie's Recipes January 11, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    I love corn chowder too, MJ. This looks beautiful and warming.

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

      Thanks so much Angie!

  36. Gloria January 11, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    looks very tempting..the smoked ham makes it even more yumm..

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Thanks Gloria! The smoked ham made this a VERY tasty soup!

  37. Debra January 11, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Glad your friend inspired you. This looks delicious!

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Thanks Debra!

  38. John@Kitchen Riffs January 11, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Bobby is right — this one is indeed a keeper! I make corn chowder with bacon, but never thought to try ham. Great idea! I also really like the idea of using mustard powder. I use it some things where you wouldn’t think to find it (including sometimes in garlic bread!), but not in a chowder like this. I’m so stealing that idea! Great recipe; thanks.

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

      Thanks so much John! We really liked the ham over bacon. It made it a “meatier” soup. 🙂 However, like bacon, you need to be careful not to over salt. The ham is actually saltier than bacon. I’m going to be stealing YOUR idea of mustard powder in garlic bread. That sounds wonderful!

  39. Laura @ Family Spice January 11, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Now this is a soup I can dig into! I love chowders and prefer them to watery soups. Stay warm this winter!

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

      Thanks so much Laura! Chowders really do stick to your bones and keep you warm. 🙂

  40. Gintare @Gourmantine January 11, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Looks beautiful! We’re expecting first snow for this year by the end of the week, i’m so saving this for then 🙂

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

      Thanks Gintare! We had our first snow back in November but haven’t seen anything since then. We’re hoping for more moisture over here. Stay warm!

  41. Tessa January 11, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    I love corn chowder and this looks like a winning recipe! I really like the addition of the chile infused oil. Have a great weekend!

    • mj January 11, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      Thanks Tessa! The oil helps to add that spicy bite at the end. 🙂


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