Shrimp chowder with fennel

Recipe by Chef Kate
READY IN: 1hr 30mins
YIELD: 11 cups




  • Peel the shrimp, reserving the shells.
  • (It is impractical to devein small shrimp, but if you're using larger ones, do devein them.) Split the shrimp lengthwise in half down the back, cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Remove the fronds (lacy top) from the fennel, coarsely chop and reserve for garnish, covered and refrigerated.
  • Trim off the tops and tough outer layers of the fennel and coarsely chop, reserve for the stock.
  • Quarter the fennel bulb lengthwise, cut away the core and cut very thinly across into 1/4- to 1/3-inch slices.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the 2 crushed garlic cloves to a 10- or 12-inch high-sided skillet or saute pan and heat over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to brown.
  • Add the shrimp shells and saute for 5 minutes, or until the shells turn red and are very aromatic.
  • Add the fennel trimmings, the wine and the water, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Season lightly with salt.
  • Strain the stock; you should have 3-1/2 cups.
  • Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over low heat to medium and cook until the bacon is a crisp golden brown.
  • Pour off all the fat except 1 tablespoon, leaving the bacon in the pot.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the chopped garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion, sliced fennel, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper (if using) and saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 10 minutes, until the onion and fennel are softened but not browned.
  • Add the potatoes and reserved shrimp stock.
  • The stock should just barely cover the potatoes; if it doesn't, add enough water to cover.
  • Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the pot and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 8 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center.
  • If the broth hasn't thickened lightly, smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot and cook a minute or two longer to release their starch.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  • Stir in the shrimp and cook for 1 minute, then remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes while the shrimp finish their slow cooking.
  • Taste the chowder and season with black pepper and more salt if needed.
  • If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely.
  • Otherwise, let sit at room temperature for up to an hour, allowing the flavors to meld.
  • When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don't let it boil.
  • Ladle into cups or bowls, making sure the shrimp, fennel, potatoes and bacon are evenly divided.
  • Sprinkle with the reserved chopped fennel fronds.
  • note:If you use frozen shrimp, defrost slowly in the refrigerator; this will help to maintain their texture.