When I think chowder, I think of clam chowder or maybe potato chowder. Both are incredibly satisfying and perfect to warm our innards on a chilly winter day. Chowder is typically made with seafood or vegetables and has a smooth and velvety consistency, compliments of cream or milk typically added. It's not a dish usually associated with light fare, so when I saw this Cooking Light version in my Facebook feed, I vowed to make it.
Maybe I didn’t vow, but I’m always looking for Dinner Night suggestions and this recipe did not disappoint. And soup was just what the doctor ordered (literally) following two weeks of sinus-infection fun, but enough about that.
First of all, bacon makes everything better and sautéing the celery, onion and garlic right in the bacon fat is a genius maneuver. And true to any chowder, half & half adds creaminess but more wonderful creaminess comes from removing two cups of the soup, blending it until smooth, and returning the blended potage to the pot. This technique is new to me (maybe I’ve been under a rock!) and all the cream in the world could not replicate the effectiveness of this step. Cooks Illustrated also uses this method in its Red Lentil Soup recipe, which is also absolutely delicious.
The whole kernels of corn provide a pleasant and crispy pop and the shrimp adds a bit of fancy-pants as well as chewiness. I used frozen shrimp, already deveined and peeled….what could be easier!
This recipe is surprisingly simple to make, especially considering the flavor punch it packs. I would do a few things differently the next time, like adding more broth and spicing it up with some red pepper flakes. I garnished with chopped bacon and cilantro and a thinly-sliced baguette, toasted and slathered with olive oil. I served crispy bread on the side.
There wasn’t a drop or kernel left in the pot! Thank goodness we had a delicious salad of greens and grapefruit sections to devour.
The recipe gurus at Cooking Light routinely take calorie and fat laden recipes and lighten them up….I think they did a great job with this one, as demonstrated by the nutritional statistics!
Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp
4 servings (serving size: about 1 2/3 cups)
6 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (that I forgot at the store but my garden is still producing!)
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3/4 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon to pan; saute 4 minutes or until the bacon begins to brown. Remove 2 slices bacon. Drain on paper towels. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (through minced garlic) to pan, and saute for 2 minutes. Add corn, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth; bring to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes.
2. Place 2 cups of corn mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed corn mixture to pan. Stir in shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir in half-and-half, pepper, and salt. Crumble reserved bacon, cilantro over soup. Add a toasted baguette slice and serve!