I’ve been desperately trying to come up with an appealing name for this soup because I have to admit the term “chowder” doesn’t exactly whet my appetite. This soup is, however, essentially a chowder that gets its creaminess from corn and olive oil rather than cream. Got to love that.
Based on a Sean Moran recipe, this incredibly delicious nose to tail prawn soup is a meal in itself and you’ll never discard prawn heads and shells again – without making a stock first.
Prawn & corn soup
2 large onions
2 sticks celery
1 bulb fennel
2 large carrots
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
150mls olive oil
heads and shells from 500g green prawns*
3 litres cold water
1 handful parsley stalks
1 handful thyme
1 bay leaf
zest of 1 orange
2 birdseye chillies, halved and seeds removed
1/3 cup olive oil
500g green king prawns
1/3 tsp cumin seeds
2 large onions
3 cobs fresh corn
1/3 cup olive oil
100 ml dry white wine
1.25 litres prawn stock
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 head garlic
1/3 cup chilli oil (see below)
2 kipfler potatoes
1 small pinch of saffron threads
freshly ground black pepper
1 handful chives or italian parsley finely chopped
2 spring onions
*Buy jumbo prawns if you can – you’ll have less prawns to peel and they have loads of roe which will enhance the flavour of your stock.
Get the stock on first. Shell and devein prawns and set the shells aside.
Roughly chop onions, fennel, celery and carrots. Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and add unpeeled garlic cloves. Pulse for a few seconds to make a coarse paste.
Heat a large heavy based stock pot to a moderate heat and add olive oil. Saute the vegetable paste for several minutes, stirring regularly, until deep golden. Add prawn heads and shells, crushing them with a wooden spoon to release all their juicy inner bits. Continue cooking for several minutes to caramelise.
Add water, herbs, peppercorns, and orange zest. Bring to the boil and skim away any scum from the top. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, then pour stock through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.
Reserve 1.25l for the soup and freeze the rest. It will make an unbelievable base for a risotto or even a fish pie.
Cut the prawns into bite size chunks.
Next make the chilli oil. Place the chillies and the olive oil in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and cook until the chillies turn golden. Discard the chillies and set aside.
In a small dry frying pan, toast cumin seeds over a low heat until fragrant, then grind up in a mortar and pestle.
Peel & roughly chop onions. Cut the kernels from the fresh corn cobs. Heat olive oil over a moderate heat, then add onion & saute until lightly caramelised. Add ground cumin and saute for another few minutes until fragrant. Add all the corn, except for a handful and saute briefly. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, then add the prawn and chicken stock and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves add to the pot with the chilli oil, reduce heat and simmer for 40 mins.
Pour the soup through a fine sieve again. Puree the strained solids with a blender with just enough soup liquid to keep it all moving. Add the puree back to the remaining liquid.
Ten minutes before serving, peel and dice the potatoes. Return soup to the heat then add the potato, saffron and saved corn kernels. Bring to a simmer over a moderate heat. When the potato is tender add prawn meat and cook for a minute or so. Taste for seasoning.
Ladle into bowls and top with fresh italian parsley, finely sliced spring onion and a extra drizzle of olive oil to serve.