When I made this recipe, I initially wasn’t aiming to prepare it dairy-free, it just happened to taste better that way. I know it may sound strange, or possibly unappetizing to not include dairy in a chowder, but corn fills in the gaps, and makes it sweet and creamy with no cream. I eat dairy on a daily basis, but I don’t believe you need heavy cream in a good chowder, unless it enhances the taste.
Fresh or frozen corn can make some of the best chowder. If you can get your hands on fresh corn this time of the year, go-for-it, however, frozen corn is pretty good stuff. In fact, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh because they flash freeze them right after picking, preserving all the vitamins and minerals. Pretty cool stuff huh? Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of fresh farm-picked produce, but in our current situation, I am truly a frozen vegetable advocate.
Cooking corn with some onions and garlic brings flavor to the chowder, then pureeing half of it, and adding it back into the pot is where true creamy bliss begins. Potatoes hobble along with the corn, and do thicken matters a bit, but I’m still hanging my hat on the corn for the impressive finish. Sweet shrimp can’t be ignored in this dish because a good chowder most often contains delicious seafood, added in the final round of cooking. A bowl of this and you’ll be right back in Nantucket, sipping on something cool in between bites of this warm and creamy chowder. Ahh, remember when?
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups frozen or fresh, defrosted
14 ounces chicken broth
5 medium potatoes, roughly diced
1 sprig fresh thyme or rosemary
8 ounces peeled shrimp
fresh chives, optional
salt & pepper
olive oil for cooking
- In a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat, add 2 teaspoons olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes and add corn, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, stir. Cook for 4 minutes and ladle half of mixture into a blender and puree until smooth, set aside.
- Add 2 cups of hot water to remaining corn mixture, broth, potatoes and thyme, stir. Turn heat to simmer and cover pot with lid. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- Remove thyme from pot, add corn puree from blender and shrimp, stir. Continue to cook over low heat for 5 minutes until shrimp are opaque and just cooked through. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Top with fresh chives, if desired.