Don't ever let anyone tell you that a humble potato can't be an amazing garnish on soup! This chowder, stuffed to the brim with shrimp and corn, is finished with a sprinkling of crispy cajun-seasoned potatoes. And it is absolute heaven.
This chowder is made extra delicious by sautéing the shrimp tails (or full shells if you have them) with anchovies in butter to extract the most flavor from your shrimp and to create an umami-bomb soup base!
Purée a few ladles of the potatoes and broth to create a velvety, thick chowder that will make your neighbor shout "OH MY GOD, THAT SMELLS LIKE MAMA COOKING." (Like my neighbor did!)
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 1 hour 10 minutes (30 minutes inactive)
1-1/2 pounds large shrimp
1 2-ounce tin of anchovies in oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 bunch scallions, divided
1 bunch chives, divided
3 cloves garlic
2 ears sweet corn (or 1 16-ounce bag frozen or 1 14.5-ounce can, drained)
2 golden potatoes, divided
3 cups water
1 cup half and half (or heavy cream if you're feeling extra naughty tonight)
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
Cayenne powder, salt, and pepper to taste
3 teaspoons cajun seasoning, divided
Crusty bread for serving
Prep Ingredients: Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells. Roughly chop half the shrimp and chill the shrimp until ready to use. Trim off the dark green parts of the leek and the root and discard. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and thoroughly rinse under cold water. Slice both halves thinly cross-wise. Rinse the scallions and thinly slice cross-wise. Mince the chives. Reserve 2 teaspoons each chives and scallions for garnish. Husk the corn and carefully use a knife to cut the kernels from the cob. Discard the cob. Cut one potato in half crosswise and set aside one half. Medium dice the remaining potato and the other half. Very small dice the remaining half of the potato and keep in cold water until ready to use.
Make the Soup Base: In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons butter over medium high until melted. Add the shrimp shells/tails and cook for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the anchovies and their oil and cook for an additional 10 minutes, mashing the anchovies until they've melted into the butter. Carefully remove the shrimp shells from the base and discard.
Prepare the Soup: Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the sliced leek. Cook for an additional 7-10 minutes or until the leek is quite soft. Add the garlic, chives, scallions, potatoes, and corn and stir to combine. Season with cayenne powder, half of the cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Pour in the water, half and half, and crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
After the potatoes are fork tender, remove about 3 ladles of soup (make sure to get about half of the potatoes out of there) and carefully transfer to a food processor. Pulse until smooth and return the purée back to the pot and stir to combine.
Add the shrimp and cook for 5-7 more minutes or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Taste and season with additional cayenne powder, salt, or pepper if desired
Make the Crispy Cajun Potatoes: About 10 minutes before the soup is done, heat a slick of olive oil in a skillet over medium high until very hot. While the skillet is heating up, drain the small-diced potato from the bowl of water and pat dry with paper towels until completely dry. Add the potatoes to the hot skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, turning every so often, until the potatoes are very crispy and cooked through. Season with the remaining cajun season, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. Remove from heat.
To Serve: Divide the chowder between bowls and top with the crispy potatoes and reserved scallions and chives. Serve with warm, crusty bread. Enjoy!
Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!