Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Shrimp Chowder...semi-light version

I'm generally not a big "chowder" fan. It is usually too rich or too pasty to really sit down and enjoy a big bowl of the stuff. I suspect the former is from recipes that call for heavy cream at the end and the latter for too much flour used to thicken that just doesn't get cooked well. Regardless not many really get me going.

I was watching food TV earlier this year and so many shows were doing chowders and the many variations. One of the episodes, I suspect it was Barefoot Contessa, that had a seafood chowder and recommended using a shrimp stock. It was interesting as it was made from the left over shells and stuff after the raw shrimp was used for something else. Around that time I had a shrimp recipe that called for peeled and deveined shrimp and I decide to use those remnants to make some stock and then just can it for future use.

Last night I got the bug to do shrimp chowder and figured out how to make it somewhat lighter than the traditional recipes I kept seeing. I eliminated the cream/half & half/whole milk and increased my stock and used instant mashed potatoes to thicken and give the soup more body. I worked. I got a lower fat per serving and still had a nice thick soup that wasn't pasty.

Shrimp Chowder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 t Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 t fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 6 c shrimp stock
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c instant mashed potato
  • 1 1/2 pound peeled/deveined raw or previously cooked shrimp

Melt butter in large stock pot. Finely dice onion and add to pot, cook about 5 minutes. Finely dice celery and carrot, add to pot. Add salt and black pepper. Cook 10 minutes until onion is translucent and very soft. Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes add to pot with cayenne, Old Bay, bay leaf and shrimp stock. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes covered.

Remove lid and add 1/2 c mashed potato and stir well until dissolved and soup begins to thicken. Depending on brand you may need to add additional instant mashed potato to get the right consistency. Add the additional amounts 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Add shrimp to soup. If using raw cook until they are pink, 3-5 minutes. If using previously cooked add to pot and cook 1-2 minutes until heated through. Stir in chopped parsley.

Shrimp stock:
6 cups water
1/2 large onion rough chopped
1 large carrot chopped
1 large stalk celery chopped
1 bay leaf
1 T Old Bay
shrimp shells from 1 1/2 - 2 pounds of raw shrimp.

Add onion, carrot, celery and spices to water in large stock pot. Bring to boil and simmer until onion is clear. Add shrimp shells and cook 5 minutes. Strain well. Pour stock into freezer container and freeze until ready to use. OR you may bring strained stock to a boil then pour into sterile canning jars and sealing with "pop" lids and refrigerate up to 4 weeks. I prefer the latter option as it tastes fresher that way.

It is fun to serve in small sourdough bread bowls but those tend to be hard to find. I opted to use sourdough mini-loafs which were just fine, just not the same pissy presentation you get in the usual bread bowl.

This does make a big batch of soup and the butter winds up being pretty nominal when divided into 8 big servings.

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