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I worked on a fresh pea clam chowder while I lived in the great city of St. Paul, Minnesota.  There, on any given beautiful early spring Saturday, the St. Paul Farmer’s Market would proudly boast a gorgeous array of pea shoots and tendrils…and not long after that, the peas themselves. That soup ended up in my soup book, Soups & Sides for Every Season and is a favorite with or without the fresh peas! (Fresh peas are often available year round at Trader Joes, as well.)

Fresh pea shoots–leaves, shoots, and tendrils from pea plants.  Yummy greens.

Flowers at the market in downtown St. Paul–a fine way to spend Saturday morning. By the way, that’s friend Sue Hall picking out flowers for her garden!

While my husband Dave adores clam chowder, I was looking for something just a bit different for one of this year’s #FishFridays #Lent posts… I thought about it as Rosie slept beside me last night. Yes, she gets cold. I tuck her in.

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Perhaps a soup with a southwest flair or one with shrimp, which is so accessible all over the U.S.?  Shrimp is also a popular frozen seafood buy at warehouse stores in inland cities like Colorado Springs where fresh fish is at a premium. Enter Smoky Green Chile-Shrimp Corn Chowder born just this morning in my kitchen.  I like it just as it is, but please adjust the seasonings to suit yourself. Ramp up the amount of chiles or shake in that hot sauce. Add a tad more salt. Up to you.  Serve with a nice cold Colorado beer. Pay no attention to Peyton Manning.

Because…

In Colorado, friends don’t let friends drink Bud.

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SMOKY GREEN CHILE-SHRIMP CORN CHOWDER

6 servings

Don’t like chiles? Skip them and make a basic shrimp and corn chowder, perhaps adding a few green peas with the shrimp for color.  REALLY like chiles?  Consider using 2 4-ounce cans. With just one can of the mild variety, there’s a gentle chile flavor without much heat.  If you’re fasting from meat for Lent, use the “skip bacon” option.)

  • 2 pieces thick bacon, chopped into ½-inch pieces (Or skip bacon and use 2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil)
  • 2 each, small dice:  medium onion, celery stalks with leaves, medium carrots (can use chopped leeks in place of onions)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground white or black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth (OR 16 ounces broth and 16 ounces clam juice)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 each sweet potato and potato,  peeled and diced (No need to peel young red potatoes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup fresh minced parsley
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn
  • 4-ounce can chopped mild green chiles, drained (double for larger chile flavor)
  • 2 cups low-fat milk (Use cream if you like.)
  • 1/4 cup white, unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined, without tails
  • 6 scallions (green and white parts), minced
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated– for garnish (optional)*
  • Hot sauce (pass at table)–optional
  1. In a heavy 8-quart soup pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon until just crispy at edges or heat butter or oil over medium flame. Add onion, celery, carrots, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender–about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook additional minute.
  2. Pour in broth and water +/or clam juice, if using. Bring to a boil; add potatoes, bay leaf, parsley, corn, and chiles.  Reduce to simmer, cover partially, and cook until potatoes are tender–10 – 12 minutes.
  3. In a large measuring cup, whisk flour into milk until smooth.  Slowly whisk milk mixture into chowder and let cook another few minutes until thickened. Add shrimp; bring back to a boil and cook 1 – 2 minutes or until shrimp is firm and pink.   Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove bay leaf.
  4. Serve hot garnished with minced scallions and a little grated cheddar, if desired. Pass hot sauce at table, if using.

*For a really cheesy soup, increase to 6 or even 8 ounces and add all of the grated cheese right into the hot pot of chowder after the shrimp is cooked.  Stir until completely melted and taste again just in case. Garnish with just the minced scallions.

Note:  If using frozen shrimp, let cook an extra minute or so.

MAKE AHEAD: Follow directions until #3. Add the milk and cook as noted, but don’t add the shrimp. Instead, cool, cover, and chill up to one day in the fridge.  Right before serving, heat soup over low heat slowly to a simmer and add shrimp; continue as directed.

PRINTABLE Recipe here:  Green Chile-Shrimp Corn Chowder

What’s a chowder anyway???

                                                    ( pronounced : CHOW-dah) 

Oxford says:

Chowder

Syllabification: chow·der

Pronunciation: /ˈCHoudər/

Definition of chowder in English:

noun

A rich soup typically containing fish, clams, or corn with potatoes and onions:clam chowder

Origin

Mid 18th century: perhaps from French chaudière ‘stew pot’, related to Old Northern French caudron (see cauldron).

Sing a new song,

Alyce