Sweet Potato and Shrimp Chowder


Please indulge the flavoristas as we try to win the sweet potato recipe contest, sponsored by the Sweet Potato Board of North Carolina, that is running this month. We will be getting very creative with this wonderfully nutrient-dense tuber!

Unlike most chowders, this one is light but still totally satisfying. It was really a delight.  It only took 30 minutes to prep and 15 mintes to cook. You could make it even faster with a few short cuts, but I was really pleased with this recipe so I left it alone, no short cuts.  Sorry.

Don’t be put off by making the stock, it only takes 10 minutes.  If you just cannot deal with homemade stock, one short cut would be to use a frozen fish stock or in a real pinch canned chicken broth.  Another short cut would be to use already cooked shrimp, dice them and add them at the very end just to heat through. Another possibility: Use full fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream.

Homemade Stock:

4 cups water
tops of leeks, washed well (from below)
1 (8 oz) bottle clam juice
shrimp shells (from the shrimp below)

Place all ingredients in a small soup pot over high heat.  Boil for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.

Chowder (prepare while stock is cooking)

2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 small leeks, cut lengthwise, washed well and then thinly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced in 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or a sprig of fresh thyme
Splash of dry white wine (optional)
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt, more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, more to taste
Sliced scallions for garnish

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until the fat is released and the bacon is crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate.  Set aside.  Add the leeks and celery and cook until just wilted. Add the diced sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the thyme. If the vegetables seem too dry, you can add a little of the stock or a splash of white wine to prevent them from sticking.

Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste and stir, allow chowder to come to a simmer. Add the stock and let cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and chopped garlic. Once the shrimp are curled and pink, stir in the heavy cream. Allow to come to a boil then turn off heat.  Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with scallions and reserved bacon.

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