Modified from Bon Appétit / Epicurious
Since our wedding anniversary is also New Year’s Eve, we decided to have a pre-anniversary get together with friends to usher in the New Year a day early. We snacked from a table of nuts, cheese, and bacon-wrapped stuffed dates to help soak up all the alcohol from the champagne we were downing, while we caught up on our families’ goings-on and listened to James’ new vinyl acquisitions. It was a laid-back kind of evening, with a little guitar-picking and a little zoning out to Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings, and a little rocking to a Rolling Stones performance that took place back when we were teenagers.
You know what goes well with that? Soup! There’s no rushing about getting it ready to serve, no reason to leave your party or your glass of champagne unattended. Soup waits until you are ready.
This shrimp chowder is just brimming with corn, so it might not be a good choice if your New Year’s resolution is to limit your carbohydrate intake. However for an occasional meal, it is warming and filling, with a little heat from the peppers and sweetness from the corn. If you have bacon drippings, I recommend using them to saute the vegetables to add a hint of smoky flavor. In the summer, if you have fresh corn, by all means cut it off the cob and use it instead of frozen!
- 1 medium, sweet onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter and/or rendered bacon fat
- 2 large poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 16-ounce packages of frozen sweet corn, thawed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons (or more) arrowroot flour (or other gluten-free flour)
- ~28 ounces chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
- small bunch fresh cilantro
- lime wedges, for serving
Prepare creamed corn from one package of frozen corn (or fresh corn, if available). Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons of arrowroot flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for about a minute until the arrowroot is blended in smoothly. Add one package of corn and a good dollop of heavy cream to almost cover the corn, continuing to stir over medium heat until it thickens up. Add a little chicken broth, if it is too thick. Use an immersible blender (or food processor) to puree the corn, leaving small bits of corn kernels intact. Season with kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
In a stockpot, melt 2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter. Add onion, celery, and poblano peppers; saute until soft (around 6 minutes). Add creamed corn, the second package of thawed corn, chicken broth, the remaining cream, and cayenne pepper. Add honey, if needed (some corn is sweeter than other corn and may not need sweetening). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer at least 15 minutes.
NOTE: When adding cayenne pepper to a simmering pot of liquid, DO NOT stick your face over the pot when you tap out the pepper. The pepper may catch on the warm current of air and go right into your eyes. It hurts and you will not even be able to see to switch off the burner as you blindly make your way to a sink to flush your eyes with cold water. Nor will flushing your eyes stop the pain. Immersing your face in a bowl of water with your eyes open eventually helps. Plan on at least ten minutes out of your day….ouch!
If you would like the chowder to be thicker, remove about 1/4 cup of liquid from the pot and mix with 1-2 tablespoons of arrowroot flour to make a smooth paste. Whisk back into the simmering soup and continue to cook until desired consistency is reached.
Add shrimp and cilantro; simmer gently until shrimp are cooked through (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot, with a good squeeze of lime juice.
Zoning out indeed! 77 Million Paintings by Brian Eno is a feast for the eyes and the ears! Random images mix to form at least 77 million pictures, and the soundtrack is the same way- Eno’s ambient musings that are perfect for the visuals. He’s mounted this exhibit all around the world, and now you can have in your home. If I had an extra TV set up, I’d run non-stop!