The best anytime soup (shrimp and vegetable chowder)
Why I Love This Recipe
Well I just love soup. Store bought soups are usually not that good and since becoming diabetic I have needed to prepare as much of my own food as possible. They put sugar in things you would never think have or need sugar.
I have always been a fan of Manhattan style soups over creamy soups. I decided to make my own. Being a bit of a gourmet chef I decided to wing it. My first attempt was so good I have kept pretty close to the same recipe for decades. Just a few fine tuning of ingredients and technique. It is funny if you read up on flavoring bland soup you may be recommended to add almost every ingredient I use. I guess that is why the soup is sooo good. It is very easy to make. I eat it for breakfast most of the time. I also eat it at lunch or dinner sometimes.
Ingredients You'll Need
To serve one large bowl of soup (you can multiply out to make a larger batch):
1) 12 baby carrots; sliced into 1/8th to 3/16ths inch rounds
2) 2 celery stalks; cut in half down the length of the stalk and then cut in 1/4 inch slices across the grain
3) 1/3rd cup onions; diced to the same size as celery
4) Old Bay seasoning; 1 tablespoon or to taste (I like things spicy). Old Bay contains a fair amount of salt so don't add salt to the soup when cooking. It won't need it. If you are a salt addict add salt to taste after cooking.
5) 1 to 2 teaspoons extra hot Valentina salsa picante; I like spicy things so you probably want to start at the low end. You can use your favorite hot sauce but for soups and sauces I find this one marries well adding some zing without overwhelming the other flavors. They make a milder version of this sauce for the less adventurous.
6) Vegetable juice; fill the 4 cup pot to capacity after above ingredients are added to pot leaving just enough headroom so the pot doesn't overflow on medium heat. It will bubble some but stirring helps keep things from overflowing
6a) Vegetable juice; You can use V8 or the generic brand. V8 even makes a spicy version that may be spicy enough for you to omit the hot sauce. I like it spicy and use the hot sauce and generic vegetable juice. If you don't like spicy you may want to be more timid with your first attempt.
7) Shrimp (Or your protein of choice. I have made this recipe with all kinds of leftover meat and seafood); I use 1 or 2 handfuls of the frozen 250-300 count cooked shrimp depending on the headroom when I add them. They are peeled and cooked already and 250-300 count is the appropriate size to not have to cut them up. If you use larger shrimp you need to cut them to a size that would allow all ingredients to end up on your spoon at the same time with a piece of shrimp.
Optional ingredients that can add an extra layer to flavors:
8) Bacon or real bacon bits; bacon should be sliced to the same size as other ingredients or crumbled
9) Tomatoes; in the summer I use salad tomatoes from my garden cut in half or quartered depending on the size of the tomatoes
11) Any other veggies you have on hand or like in your soup
I have a pot that holds 4 cups of water. I have a bowl will hold as much as the pot can possibly hold with a little headroom left. This works nicely for the quick soup for 1. If it fits in the pot it fits in the bowl.
I am not a measure everything type of cook. This recipe is intended to be adapted to ones unique palate. You should be pleased with the first attempt at soup but plan to modify it to your personal tastes by taking notes of your exact ingredients and modifying the results to fit your taste. Start with single serve portions to get it to your perfect flavor combination.
There is a little science to order of ingredients put in the pot. The veggies in the main ingredients all take a long time to reach desired tenderness. They can go in from the start with the first 7 ingredients. If you added potatoes you may want to cook them a little first. Step 1 takes as long as the slowest cooking vegetable. I don't put potato in mine and I go by when the carrots reach tender but still crispy. They take the longest to cook. You don't want a soup with mushy vegetables. Vegetables should be added so they all reach perfectly done when the soup is done. Perfectly done varies by individual taste but I shoot for veggies that are still a bit crispy while being tender.
Step 1: Combine in pot the first 6 ingredients and any optional slow cooking vegetables. If you use kale, bacon, mushrooms (mushrooms can be added later as they do shrink but they handle the long heat well except for shrinkage), potatoes and/or tomatoes they go in now (peppers, and other ingredients that lose their crunch fast quickly turning to mush go in as the carrots start to get tender. That takes about an hour but I don't time things. they are done when they are done. You don't want the fast cooking veggies to get mushy and that doesn't take that long. Cook on medium heat stirring occasionally until carrots (or the longest to get tender vegetable is done) are tender but crispy. You don't want mushy ingredients in soup.
Step 2: By the time carrots are at the desired tenderness the soup will have cooked down some allowing headroom for your protein. If you were adding quick cooking veggies they should already be in the soup by now. The soup will be too hot to serve at this point but your protein will cool it. Add the protein until the pot is back to full. The frozen shrimp are cooked so all you want to happen at this point is for the shrimp to thaw and the soup to get back up to desired serving temperature. DO NOT OVERCOOK SHRIMP. THEY ARE ALREADY COOKED.
Step 3: When soup hits the desired serving temperature pour soup into bowl large enough to hold the 4 cup payload or share with others in smaller bowls. If the soup is too hot to eat right when served the shrimp may have become rubbery. You don't want them to cook any more they are already cooked. If you get your timing down the shrimp should be warm and tender.
Step 4: Enjoy the best bowl of soup you ever had.