Shrimp and Corn Chowder – a delicious lightened-up version of a comforting classic – adapted from Cooking Light
Whenever I eat chowder, I think about my husband Eddie’s story of when he worked for a Boston catering company called “Clambake America.” It was a summer job he had when he was in college. One weekend he and his co-worker Cookie were on the serving line – catering a corporate event for a group of business people from North Carolina. The chowder was ladled out and everyone was lining up for their bowl, when Eddie and Cookie realized they had forgotten the spoons. It was too late to run out and buy some and Eddie asked, through his teeth while smiling outwardly, “What do we do?” Cookie whispered back “I have an idea. Just follow along.”
As people began to take their bowls and ask “where are the spoons?” Cookie laughed and turned to Eddie and said, really loud “Do you hear that? They want to know where the spoons are!” Turning back to the group she said “Here in New England, we don’t eat chowder with spoons.” Then she lifted a bowl to her mouth to demonstrate. Eddie laughed too and chimed in “That’s so funny. I guess in other places they use spoons for chowder. “Everyone started to laugh and raise their bowls to their mouths, happily embracing the local custom.
This is a really tasty, lightened-up chowder, adapted from Cooking Light. There’s no cream at all. The base is chicken stock and low-fat milk…and there’s just enough butter and bacon to make it taste decadent!
I honestly can’t imagine drinking New England clam chowder out of a bowl – it’s pretty thick! But the folks from North Carolina went along with it, and Eddie and Cookie were saved!
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (2 medium potatoes)
- 4 slices bacon (I suggest using a brand that's free of sodium nitrite)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¾ cup finely chopped onion (1 medium onion)
- ½ cup finely chopped celery (2 stalks)
- 1½ tablespoons finely minced garlic (4-5 cloves)
- 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2½ cups 2% reduced-fat milk
- 1¼ cups low salt chicken broth (I recommend Swanson's)
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice you like)
- 24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 pound)
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed or 1¼ cup fresh corn kernels
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- Crumbled bacon (from above)
- Boil Potatoes Put the cut potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt into a medium saucepan filled halfway with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, until potatoes are just tender. (They will soften up more in the soup) Drain and set aside.
- Make Chowder While the potatoes are boiling, cook bacon in a large kettle or dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour drippings into a heat-proof bowl or mug. Wipe any blackened bits out of the pot. Return 1 tablespoon of drippings to the pot along with 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion and celery. Saute over medium-low heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and thyme sprigs and sauté 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle flower into the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add milk, broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 2 minutes. Add salt, black pepper, cayenne, shrimp, corn and cubed potatoes. Simmer until shrimp are just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Discard bay leaf and thyme stalks.
- To Serve Divide soup among 4 bowls. Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top, along with sliced green onions.