Mexican Corn Soup with Shrimp and Cilantro Purée
I always felt that corn chowder was about the most unpleasant looking dish ever invented. Then all of a sudden hot restaurants across the country began making smooth corn soups swirled with a variety of contrasting purées. While the soups were certainly more pleasing to the eye, I was still disappointed by the bland flavor. I became determined to invent a corn soup that even I could adore. This recipe is the result. The contrast between the pastel yellow of the soup, the coral of the shrimp, and the vibrant green of the cilantro is spectacular.
Makes8 to 10 servings
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, game day
Recipe Coursehot appetizer
Dietary Considerationhot appetizer
Equipmentblender, food mill
Taste and Texturecreamy, herby, hot & spicy, spiced, sweet
Type of Dishhot soup
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer preferably imported
- 3½ cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 pound medium (24 to 35 per pound) shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3 ribs celery, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and minced
- ½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups bottled clam juice or fish stock
- 4½ cups fresh corn kernels (6 to 8 ears)
- 1½ cups heavy or whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 can (4 ounces) green chiles, drained
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup olive oil
Heat the beer, 2 cups of the water, the bay leaf, and red pepper flakes in a 2-quart saucepan to boiling. Add the shrimp and cook just until done, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the shrimp and return the cooking liquid to the saucepan. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until reduced by one-half.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cumin, thyme, and flour. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Add the reduced cooking liquid, the clam juice, remaining 1½ cups water, and the corn to the pot. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Cut each shrimp into 4 pieces and add half the shrimp to the soup. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, milk, and lime juice. Purée the soup in batches in a blender. Press through a sieve or food mill back into the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining shrimp and keep warm over low heat.
Prepare the cilantro puree: Place the chiles, cilantro, and oil in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth.
Ladle the soup into serving bowls and swirl a couple tablespoons of the cilantro purée on top of each serving.
1987 Sarah Leah Chase