Corn chowder is a classic soup bursting with the sweetness of corn. It's oh-so-creamy and body warming. When you add quick-cooking shrimp, corn chowder not only tastes great and feeds the soul, but it is also transformed into a complete meal in a single bowl.
The Power of a Roux
Usually, the thickness of a chowder comes from two sources: the starchy potatoes and the heavy cream. For a little versatility, this soup was built on a roux — a French word that refers a cooked mixture of a hot melted fat, often butter, and flour. The flour gets cooked for a minute or so, so it's no longer raw and powdery, and at the same time, it is coated in the fat, which carries so much flavor. A liquid, like stock or wine, is added, and once the mixture simmers a bit, it thickens right up.
The Versatility of a Soup Built on a Roux
A roux is a solid foundation for many sauces and soups. It gives the soup body, will not break apart when heated, can't reverse itself and become thin like other thickeners, and will hold all the ingredients in suspension in the soup so they don't all fall to the bottom and overcook or burn. In this recipe, the roux also allows for a few simple variations to meet a bunch of different tastes and even dietary needs.
- The roux will give the soup body, so if you want to skip the potatoes, try parsnips or cauliflower and add another five to seven minutes to the cooking time so they cook through.
- If want something super creamy, sub heavy cream in for the milk, and it will be absolutely dreamy.
- To make this dairy-free, swap out the butter for olive oil, and use coconut milk to finish the soup.
- You can substitute almost any fatty meat for the bacon, like pancetta or salt pork.
- If you love a briny, ocean-like taste, make this soup with fish stock and omit the salt, or try half clam juice and half low-sodium stock.
- You can switch the shrimp to cooked crabmeat; simply stir it in at the end and serve as soon as it is heated through.
- You could even make this with an inexpensive raw frozen fish like tilapia or barramundi; cut into two-inch pieces and cook it just like the shrimp.
Shrimp and Corn Chowder
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 cups frozen corn kernels (32 ounces)
2 teaspoons celery salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 cups whole milk
1 pound uncooked peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
Place the bacon in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened and browned at the edges, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon and onions to a bowl, leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
Add the butter to the pan and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the butter is completely melted, about 1 minute. Add the flour and whisk until completely combined and the mixture forms a paste. Continue whisking until the flour mixture darkens to a golden blond, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the broth and whisk until it is completely incorporated into the flour mixture and there are no lumps.
Add the potatoes, carrots, corn, reserved bacon and onions, celery salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the milk and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high, cover, and bring to a gentle boil, about 3 minutes. Stir well, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Add the shrimp and stir gently, making sure they are all submerged. Cover and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately ladle the chowder into bowls and serve.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.