I live in Brooklyn, which means that the winters are long and cold and the local winter produce leaves something to be desired. My family and I do enjoy beets, carrots, parsnips and potatoes, which are all available during the cold months. But by early spring, I’m itching for something fresh and different. Recently, when I was at my local farmers market I saw that one of the farms I really love, Migliorelli Farm, was selling their frozen corn. Corn? Summer flavor? Aw, yeah!
I was looking forward to making something new and different with the pound of corn that I bought. Since the corn was frozen, it wouldn’t have that bit of crunch that I love in fresh corn. Salad was out, and so were pizza and pasta. So, I decided I would use it to make chowder.
And then the recipe ideas started brewing in my head. Regular corn chowder…roasted corn chowder…Mexican corn chowder…
Last summer I made a lot of corn chowder and corn soup when corn was bountiful at the markets. But, with this surprise batch of corn I was inspired to make corn and shrimp chowder. So I got into the kitchen and started cooking.
Chowders typically have a bad reputation for being heavy and unhealthy. I wanted to lighten this version up without losing flavor. Instead of cream or half and half I used a mix of milks I already have in my refrigerator. I used a bit of the whole milk we keep for Eliana and I supplemented it with the 1% milk my husband and I use. Right away, the fat and calorie count went down without sacrificing protein and calcium. Another way I was able to lighten up this heavy dish was by pureeing some of the cooked vegetables and adding them back into the chowder as it finishes cooking.
This chowder is really tasty, and super easy and quick to prepare. It took around 30 minutes to make. The shrimp is yummy, but the chowder is just as delicious without it if you want to make a vegetarian version. And, while the milk makes it extra rich, it is also not necessary if you want to make a vegan version of this recipe. See “Variations” below for how to make this recipe Vegetarian or Vegan. Like this idea but have a purée-eating First-Time Foodie at home? Try this Corn Purée.
Whichever version you choose, I hope you enjoy it!
And before I forget, here are some tips to share:
• Cut the xuxu like you would a stone fruit. There’s a pit in the middle of the xuxu much like a peach, so don’t run your knife straight down the middle when you chop it up. Cut around the pit like you would a peach or plum.
• Make a vegetable chowder or soup feel richer and creamier by removing 2-3 cups of the cooked vegetables, pureeing it and stirring it back into the pot before finishing up the recipe.
Corn and Shrimp Chowder: Monday Meal
• 2 generous cups of corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
• 3 cups seafood or vegetable stock
• Approximately 1 pound of red potatoes, chopped into small cubes with skin on
• 1 xuxu squash (also knows as chayote), peeled and chopped into small cubes*
• ¼ jalapeño pepper, diced with some seeds
• ½ pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into ½-inch chunks
• ⅛ cup whole milk
• ¼ cup 1% milk
• Small handful parsley, finely chopped- keep a few pinches reserved for topping the soup
• Chives, finely chopped (to taste)
• Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large, lidded pot, put the potatoes, xuxu and stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
Add the corn and jalapeño pepper, stir and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 8-9 minutes.
Scoop out 3 large ladles (around 2½ cups) and purée them in the blender. Return purée to the pot and stir in the shrimp. Cover and cook until the shrimp is pink- around 3-4 minutes.
Stir in the milks, chives and half the parsley. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with a bit of extra parsley.
I served the chowder with a day-old baguette that I thinly sliced, drizzled with olive oil and salt and popped into a 350° oven for 4 minutes.
*Don’t forget about the pit!
• Vegan: Swap out the seafood stock for 3¼ cups of vegetable stock and omit the shrimp and milk.
• Vegetarian: Swap out equal parts vegetable stock for the seafood stock and omit the shrimp.
Did Eliana like this recipe? Yes, but, I broke one of my cardinal rules and served her the bread at the beginning of the meal alongside the vegetables and protein. She wasn’t so interested in much else after she saw that piece of bread perched on her bowl! She did take a few spoonfuls and slurped the soup off the bread before she ate it. The lesson I re-learned? Unless she is eating a sandwich, I serve the bread to Eliana after she has eaten at least some of the rest of her meal!
Live, learn and re-learn, right?