Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shrimp and Two Potato Chowder

This quick dish is an easy twist on a classic winter soup. I originally had a hankering for New England clam chowder, but 1) I had no clams, 2) I can't really eat cream - well I can, but I suffer dearly for it - and 3) I had an overabundance of multi-hued potatoes that needed eating. So, no, it's not clam chowder - not a thing like it really, except that I'm calling it a chowder - but it is delicious, and that's what matters.

Shrimp and Two Potato Chowder
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala, optional
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in large cubes
3 or 4 small red or new potatoes, or 1 large russet or Idaho potato, cut into large cubes
Salt and pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 quart vegetable stock (Kitchen Basics is my favorite)
2 cups whole milk (or cream, or 2 percent, whatever you have on hand - just don't use skim)
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined

In a large stock pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. When shimmering, add the onion and saute, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and all the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and the garam masala, if desired. (It's not necessary, but it gives the soup a certain something - a special depth of spicy, earthy flavor. A little curry powder would also work well). After a few minutes, add the vegetable stock, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits; add the milk, thyme, give the whole thing a stir, and then simmer on medium heat, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Just before serving, add the shrimp - they'll cook through in 1-2 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

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