Prawn Head Chowder

Chowder is a soup which is prepared with milk or cream. It is usually either thickened with crushed crackers or roux (a mixture of oil and flour). Typically, Chowder is a seafood-based soup; but there is also a corn-based soup known as corn chowder. This recipe is my attempt at mixing the two.

Whenever I buy a nice batch of prawns from the market, I tend to save the heads to make something special. I have used the heads here to flavour the soup. The key is to ensure that the heads are crushed well in Step 4, so that the flavours can be extracted.

Preparation Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time : 60 minutes
Portion : 4 portions
Medium-Sized Prawns 12 nos.
Prawn Heads 2 cups
Prawn Stock 5 cups
Tomato Puree 200 grams
Potato (cut into 1 cm cubes) 1 cup
Sweet Corn 1 cup
Onion (roughly chopped) 1 cup
Celery (roughly chopped) 1 cup
Red Bell Peppers (roughly chopped) 1 cup
Vegetable Oil 4 tablespoons
Refined Flour 1 tablespoon
Butter 1 tablespoon
Garlic (roughly chopped) 8 cloves
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder 1 tablespoon
Parsley (finely chopped) 2 tablespoons
Cream ¼ cup
Coriander/Cilantro Leaves 1 stalk
Freshly Crushed Black Peppercorns To taste
Salt To taste

Preparation Method:

1.           Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the prawn heads, garlic, onions, celery and bell peppers. Sauté for about 8-10 minutes – till the prawn head aroma wafts from the pot. Lower the heat, add in the stock and stir. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes

2.          Add half the potatoes and ¼ cup of sweet corn. Pour in the tomato puree and add the parsley. Simmer for 10 minutes

3.          Take the pot off the fire and pass the stock through a sieve. Do not discard the prawn heads and vegetables – keep them aside for 10 minutes to cool

4.         Add the prawn head and vegetable mix into a blender and whizz in pulses to break down the vegetables and heads (not to make it to a pulp). Pass this through a sieve. If necessary, press the mix to extract all the saucy liquid

5.          In a stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. When hot, add the refined flour and stir continuously till the flour is cooked (for about 2 minutes). Add the sieved pulp slowly, stirring continuously to avoid any lumps being formed (ideally a whisk is better). Once all the sieved pulp is poured in, add in the remaining potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the remaining sweet corn and let the soup simmer for a further 10 minutes

6.         While the soup is simmering, heat the remaining oil and butter in a pan and toss the prawns for 7-10 minutes till they are cooked. Remove and keep aside

7.          Add the cream (reserving 2 tablespoons in a small bowl) to the soup and stir well. Switch off the flame

8.         Divide the soup between 4 bowls. Arrange 3 prawns in each bowl and add a teaspoon of cream over the prawns. Garnish with a sprig of coriander

9.         Serve hot.

·         Pulsating the vegetable and prawn head mix releases the flavour trapped in them – especially the prawn heads

·         Making a roux in Step 5 is optional. I usually avoid it as I find the soup thick enough with the pulverised vegetables (including corn and potatoes).

Suggested Accompaniments:  
·            Serve with Cream Crackers; or, any toasted bread.
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