Sunday, July 26, 2009

Corn-and-Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

With six new recipes coming out from our kitchen this week, our favorites this round were those Chipotle Chicken Skewers With Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce, that tangy Strawberry Sherbet and the Egg and Bacon Pizza.

The first-of-the-season Minnesota grown corn has started to trickle in and you can be sure we wasted no time taking advantage of those sweet cobs. While it was tempting to just grill the ears and chow down on them with a little lime, chipotle and butter, Jeff had been asking for a shrimp dish again, so we opted to use what we had in this Corn-and-Shrimp Chowder with Bacon.

Before we dive into the cooking, I wanted to give a little nod to the preparation of the corn. After stripping the cobs, I was pleased to see this recipe takes the extra step to scrape the milk and pulp off each cob once they were cleaned of the kernels. Why bother? Besides draining the corn of every darn inch of flavor it has, the pulp adds to the texture of the soup, thickening the base without having to use too much extra flour. Give it a try with your next soupy dish that has corn and see the difference!

To get this soup goin', we sliced up the smoky bacon for this chowder and let it render down to crisp it up, as well as to leave us with some drippings to begin cooking the whites from a couple scallions and cubed potatoes that were coming in next. To keep that bacon crunchy though, it is removed and reserved for later. Flour was sprinkled in to give it time to cook out its raw taste, but remember we don't need very much at all - just a couple tablespoons for the whole pot. Milk and vegetable broth, along with Cajun seasoning (you could certainly used a seafood seasoning if you like) and thyme, were tossed into the mix, adding volume and creaminess. Those added liquids will first be brought to a boil to ensure the flour is heated enough to work its magic, but then the chowder needs to simmer long enough to finish cooking the chunky potato pieces through.

The kernels of corn, along with those smart scrapings from the cob, are tossed into the pot and once given a chance to warm through, we stirred in the peeled shrimp and a portion of the greens from the remaining scallions. Ready in just minutes, as soon as you see the shrimp pink up and they turn just opaque, we removed the chowder and gave it a quick re-season before ladling out into the bowls. Bringing the bacon back home by sprinkling the crispy bits and adding a few more green scallion slices on top, we were both pretty anxious to slide our spoons in to get the first bite.

I think what both Jeff and I appreciated the most about this dish was just how light it felt off our spoons. While the pulp from the corn and touch of flour added body to the chowder, it didn't end up being overly thick and dense, which was most pleasant on this warm summer day. However, if you are after a thicker dish, think about smashing in some of the tender potatoes first before trying to add more flour. Light on the tongue doesn't mean this wasn't exciting in the mouth as the delicate curls of shrimp and pure sweetness of the corn definitely demanded our taste buds attention and left them sighing in content by the time our bowls were clean.


  1. This is a beautiful soup Joe. Love shrimps, so I would enjoy.

  2. So it took me a day or two to get the best fresh local sweet corn after we read your recipe. Used frozen raw shrimp defrosted under running cold water, and peeled. Two russet bakers, scrubbed, unpeeled & chunked, and a diced sweet onion (chive snips from the garden added for garnish at the end).

    Otherwise as per the recipe.

    My new sous chef, the rescue pup terrier, helped keep the floor clean and approved of the entire recipe with lots of lower level sniffs. He got a bit of chowder drizzled on his kibble.

    Easy, takes less than 1 hour start to table, & delicious, and it is nice to have a summer soup!

  3. Helene - Thanks!

    Emmett - Yeah!

    Auntie J - Glad you gave it a try!