Corn and Shrimp Chowder with Tomatoes

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

A thick chowder made without flour or cream. Packed with vegetables, this soup is full-bodied enough for a main course. It’s not quick, but it’s worth the time and trouble. Make it when corn is fresh, sweet, crisp. You can also make this without the shrimp.


  • 2 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch lengths
  • 2 medium-large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced ¼ inch thick on a sharp diagonal
  • 2 ribs celery, trimmed, strings peeled, and sliced on a diagonal
  • ½ pound new or boiling potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into ½-inch slices (4 or 5 small to medium potatoes)
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth or reduced-sodium canned broth, fat skimmed
  • cups water, or as needed
  • 7 cups corn kernels with milky pulp, cut and scraped from 11 to 15 ears, 4 or 5 cobs reserved
  • cups lowfat (1%) milk, or more as needed
  • Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ pound small to medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and cut into large dice (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives, cut into ½-inch lengths Pilot, oyster, or other plain crackers


    1. Place the bacon in a large heavy saucepan or casserole over medium heat. Cook fairly slowly, stirring frequently and pouring off any excess fat once or twice, until bacon is lightly golden and nearly crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Set aside. Pour off all but 2 teaspoons bacon fat from the pan.
    2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pan, tossing to coat. Sauté over medium heat, tossing frequently, until the vegetables have softened slightly but are not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, thyme, broth, and enough water to partially cover the vegetables. Break or cut the reserved corn cobs in half; tuck into the mixture. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.
    3. Uncover the soup and set it aside to cool at room temperature for about 1 hour, if you have time. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Using a small knife, scrape all possible pulp and liquid from each cob back into soup, then discard. Skim fat and froth from surface.
    4. Stir in corn kernels with their liquid and simmer 3 minutes. With a skimmer, transfer about cups of the solids to a food processor or blender. Process until coarsely pureed. Stir the puree back into soup, add the milk, and return to a simmer. Do not boil. Adjust consistency so soup is lightly thickened. If it is too thin, puree more solids and return puree to soup. If it is too thick, thin as needed with a little more milk. Season to taste with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. (The chowder can be made in advance to this point; it improves with standing.)
    5. Return the chowder to a simmer, if necessary. Stir in the reserved bacon and scatter the shrimp over the surface. Cover tightly and simmer just until the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. Do not boil. Correct seasonings again and add a little more milk, if needed. Stir in the tomatoes and half of the chives and cook for a few moments to heat the tomatoes through. Serve hot in wide soup bowls, sprinkling each portion with the remaining chives. Serve with pilot, oyster, or other plain crackers.