Soup #1: Corn Chowder with Shrimp, Leeks and Fennel

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When I was younger I used to think it was strange if we had soup for dinner.  I didn’t think it really qualified as such and thought it must be an adult thing.  Serve it with a salad and it’s lunch, right?!  Au contraire mon frere.  (Impressed with my french are you?  I totally googled how to spell that).  Soup is delicious for dinner!  I get it now, as an adult.  It can be light and lunch-like or rich, hearty and dinner-like.  We eat a lot of soup in our house, especially this time of year.  This soup in particular passes as both a lunch and dinner soup-it’s corn chowder with fennel, leeks, shrimp, potatoes, butter…creamy and totally satisfying.  This soup is particularly great because it takes very little time to make-you can have it on the table in 30 minutes.  I found this chowder recipe in a Real Simple magazine several years ago and have since adapted, omitted, readmitted, etc., until I think I now have it just where I want it.  You can always use a low-fat milk, but be willing to settle for a chowder that is a little thinner.  If you want to do the opposite and completely indulge, add a little heavy cream or half and half for even more silky richness.  It’s one our kids will ask seconds of without thinking I am a weird adult for offering soup for dinner.

Corn Chowder with Shrimp, Leeks and Fennel

3 tblsp butter

2 leeks, white and yellow parts rinsed and chopped

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

2 cups chicken or fish stock

4 cups whole milk

*4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

**1 bag of frozen sweet corn

pinch of cayenne pepper

salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

15-20 peeled and deveined raw shrimp, cut into smaller pieces

 

crumbled feta cheese for serving

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot.  Toss in the leeks and fennel and saute until they are fragrant and translucent.  Stir in the stock and milk and increase to medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes until they are tender.  Stir in the frozen corn, salt, pepper and cayenne.  If you have one, use an immersion blender to cream the soup a little to thicken it.  I haven’t got one of these so I ladle about 3 cups of the soup into my blender and pulse it about 4 or 5 times until it is pureed, then I add it back to the pot.   About 10 minutes before serving, add the shrimp to the soup and allow to cook on medium simmer for about 10 minutes more.  Serve with crumbled feta and some of the chopped fennel fronds if you prefer.

(*Note: you can certainly use russet or red potatoes here too.  I like the golden creaminess of a Yukon gold and think it’s subtly sweet flavor compliments the corn).

(**Note: In the summer, since sweet corn is available we take full advantage and almost never use frozen.  To substitute with fresh, roast about 4 ears of peeled and clean sweet corn in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove the corn from the husks and add to the soup).

I hope you love this soup as much as I do and I hope your family and friends do too.  In the next couple of weeks I am going to share with you more soups, all that can be enjoyed as a full meal and ones that also freeze well.

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