I just got back from another epic Labor Day weekend at Camp No Counselors—the amazing organization that allows adults to once again participate in talent shows, tubing, and cabin trickery. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like a shell of a human being after so many sporty activities, Woodstock theme parties and attempts at sleeping two people on the bottom bunk. Thanks to the latter, range of motion in my neck is at an awkward 90 degrees. And despite the intermittent Liquiteria juices to help us power through color war, I was very happy to have the remnants of this healthy snack for the bus ride home yesterday.
Even though the flash tattoos have yet to fully come off my face, it’s back to reality for me today. And after a weekend of heavy drinking and mystery meat tacos, this means some sort of healthy eating while I sift through my inbox. But I’m not fully ready to come down off the camp and summer high. Mainly because my stomach has come to expect 2+ hot dogs at lunch. So I’ve decided this dairy-free, comforting shrimp and corn chowder is the perfect happy medium.
Camp and back-to-school aside, September is a weird hybrid month. Summer produce is still on the stands. But the weather is getting colder, and the daylight playtime ends closer to 7pm…which is a bummer, since work happens to end after that cut off. You could stick to grilled quesadillas and corn on the cob. But somehow that feels a little immature, kind of like going back to a college frat party 6 months after you graduated (but nothing of course like going back to a summer camp 16 years after your last color war. That’s just COOL.)
In an effort to not live in the past, but still enjoy the fresh corn that continues to dominate the present, I created this healthy take on shrimp and corn chowder. It uses coconut milk instead of cream and has a slight background kick of sriracha. The beauty of the flavor profile though is the little bit of extra time it takes to make a stock using the wayward corncobs and shrimp shells. The result is a totally comforting (and mature) way to enjoy the end of summer produce, and coincidentally, the perfect antidote to a weekend (or summer) of greasy eating that won’t send your body into immediate American cheese withdrawal.
I hope you all sent summer out with a bang, even if it wasn’t the same bang I heard at the bottom of the Slip and Slide when two campers’ heads collided. If you’re looking for an easy make-ahead back-to-school lunch to ease you back into a more serious season, this shrimp and corn chowder recipe is your ticket.
Shrimp and Corn Chowder with Chives
- 4 ears corn shucked
- ¾ pound shrimp shell on
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 leek trimmed and thinly sliced
- ½ cup white wine
- 8 ounces clam juice
- 1 large Yukon cold potato cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 sprig thyme optional
- One 15-ounce can coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
On a clean work surface, remove the kernels from the corn cobs and set aside. Cut the cobs in half lengthwise (or break them in half with your hands) and place them in a medium stockpot.
Peel and devein the shrimp. Set the cleaned shrimp aside with the corn kernels and add the shells and tails to the stockpot with the cobs. Cover the cobs with 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Briskly simmer the stock over medium heat until reduced by half, about 30 to 40 minutes. Strain the stock through a colander or fine mesh sieve and return to the pot. Discard the solids.
Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat the oil or butter. Saute the onion and leeks over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, 2 minutes. Add the clam juice, potato, shrimp stock, salt, and thyme. Bring to a boil then simmer, covered, until the potatoes are al dente, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk and sriracha. Fold in the corn kernels and shrimp. Return to a simmer and then immediately remove from the heat. Taste for seasoning and add the chives. Ladle the chowder into bowls and serve.
Use the time that the stock is simmering to prep your remaining ingredients and start cooking the rest of the chowder.