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Smoky Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Smoky Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Soup… I love soup. Even in the summer. While usually I’ll go for the chilled soups when it’s hot out, say an Andalusian gazpacho or a chilled summer squash yogurt dill soup, when the weather cools down a bit, like it did this past Sunday, chowders start to sound good to me. And what could make a better summer chowder than a corn and shrimp chowder?

Usually when I see chowders they have potatoes in them, but corn is already carb heavy so I figured I’d ditch the potatoes and come up with a way of making it creamy, but still chunky without them. I prefer my chowders a little more on the brothy side anyway.

So with that I came up with my own version. This one has bacon, and smoked paprika giving it a smoky flavor and butter and heavy cream giving it that lush satisfying feel. These can easily be substituted or left out if you’re looking for something on the lighter side. The trick for adding the creamy chowder texture here is blending about half of the soup and adding it back, to add the thickness the potatoes would have brought to the party.

While it looks like a lot of steps, if you’re a relatively quick chopper you can get your prep done while the bacon is cooking and have this done in under an hour… and it is a meal in and of itself!

Oh, and if you have any left over, you’re in for a treat the next day. The flavor continues to develop overnight!


Smoky Summer Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Serves approximately 6


  • 6 strips of bacon cut into 1” strips (nitrate free if possible)
  • 18 pieces of extra large wild caught shrimp, peeled and deveined (3 per serving)
  • 4 cups of corn (fresh cut from cob or frozen)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 – 4 tsp smoked paprika (to be used in 3 stages)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (I use homemade or Swanson’s Organic)
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 6 large basil leaves julienned (stacked, rolled and cut into thin strips cross wise)
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs, stems removed and discarded
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 green onion thinly sliced for garnish
  • ½ to ¾ cup of heavy cream
  • Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. In a heavy bottomed soup pot, on medium to medium low heat cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towel. Pour off bacon fat reserving a little in the pan for cooking the shrimp.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, cut corn kernels from cobs, dice your onion, celery, mince your garlic, julienne your basil, chop your Italian parsley, and thinly slice your green onion.
  3. Once bacon is crisped and removed and while the pan is still heated add either a little bacon fat back or a TBSP of butter, season shrimp with salt and a good sprinkling of smoked paprika, and lay shrimp in pan letting cook for 2 to 3 minutes or so on each side until mostly done. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside into bowl or plate. Shrimp should be just cooked through as they will continue to cook once added back to the hot chowder.
  4. Add enough butter and/or bacon grease to coat bottom of pan and add diced onions to begin sautéing on medium.
  5. Add celery to onions and season with salt. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add minced garlic and a pinch or two of smoked paprika. Sauté for a couple of minutes until soft.
  7. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, corn and a little more smoked paprika to taste. Bring to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes adjusting salt as you go. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
  8. Too add a creamy thickness, scoop about half of contents into blender and purée. Be sure to hold the lid of the blender down tightly with a hand towel or you will have hot liquid everywhere. Trust me on this. Add purée back into chowder pot.
  9. Add Italian Parsley and Basil and simmer for another minute or two. If you add these in before puréeing that’s fine, the soup will just take on a greener tint.
  10. Add about 1/4 cup of the soup a little at a time to the heavy cream to temper it slowly and prevent it from curdling and then add the tempered cream back to the soup.
  11. For added flavor, add the juice from the cooked shrimp back into the soup.
  12. Ladle into bowls. Float 3 pieces of shrimp per bowl and garnish with crispy bacon pieces, sliced green onion, and ground black pepper to taste.
Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s life long passion for cooking and has spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen.
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