This shrimp and corn chowder recipe is inspired by a very traditional Ecuadorian potato soup called locro de papa. The classic locro is made with potatoes, milk, and cheese; however in Ecuador, there are many variations of the locro soup. Some add crispy pork skin, others add cabbage or greens, in some places the cheese is replaced with ground peanuts, and there is even a variation with offal. Corn and shrimp are also used in some variations of locro.
Easy and quick shrimp and corn chowder recipe with a Latin touch. This soup is inspired by the traditional Ecuadorian locro potato soup and is made with shrimp, corn, potatoes, seafood broth, milk/cream, onion, garlic, celery, annatto, and served with cilantro, green onions, avocado, lime and hot sauce.
- 1 lb of medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ lb of large whole shrimp or prawns, for garnishing
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 ½ teaspoons of ground annatto (achiote), adjust more or less based on your preference – can use paprika if you can’t find annatto
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons of butter or oil
- ½ white onion, finely diced
- 2 celery stalk, finely diced
- ¼ cup of white wine (any dry/non-sweet white wine will work)
- 3 lbs of potatoes, peeled and cut into medium or large pieces, use Yukon gold in the US or papa chola in Ecuador
- 4 cups (1 liter) of seafood stock or broth, can also use fish or vegetable stock
- 3 ears of corn, in kernels or slices, about 10 ounces of kernels (can use frozen corn)
- 1 ½ cups of milk
- ½ cup of cream
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped green onions or chives
- Avocado, sliced or diced
- Lime slices
- Aji style hot sauce
- Place the shrimp in a bowl and add the crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of annatto powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and let marinate for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.
- In a medium to large sized soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil and sauté the shrimp until they are cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pot and save them to add at the end – keep the whole ones separate from the peeled ones. The peeled ones will be added back directly to the soup at the end, while the whole ones will be used to garnish the plates.
- In the same pot where the shrimp were sautéed, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with the diced onion, diced celery, and ½ teaspoon of ground annatto or achiote powder. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add ¼ cup of white wine to deglaze the pan, stir well, and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half.
- Add the potatoes and mix well.
- Add the seafood stock or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook over low heat with the pot partially covered. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the type of potatoes and size of the chunks.
- Use a potato masher to gently mash some of the potatoes, but don’t mash them all, you still want some small chunks of potato.
- Add the corn and the milk; continue cooking on low for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. You can also add more milk or broth if the soup is too thick.
- Add the sautéed shrimp (peeled ones) and finely chopped cilantro, mix them into the soup.
- Serve the soup garnished with the whole shrimp, chopped cilantro, chopped green onions and chives, avocado, lime and hot sauce to taste.
A good friend and fellow food blogger from Ecuador, Pilar of Confieso que Cocino, was recently visiting her sister-in-law in the Seattle area. We visited some of the popular food places in the area, including Pike Place Market and Uwajimaya. Obviously we also cooked together and one of the dishes we made was this shrimp and corn chowder recipe. We knew we wanted to make a comforting soup and wanted to use seafood. We also wanted to make sure the soup could be made easily both in Seattle and in Ecuador.
The idea of a chowder style recipe came up because we were talking about Lent and Ecuador’s traditional lent soup called fanesca, which is made with cod and a variety of grains/legumes. However we wanted to keep it simple and a locro style chowder seemed a better option than a fanesca style dish.
Achiote or annatto is a red seed that is used to infuse color and a subtle earthy flavor to many Ecuadorian dishes, including locro soups. The whole seeds are either infused over low heat into oil (or butter or lard) to use in recipes, or you can use the ground seeds in powder form. For this shrimp corn chowder recipe, we made a quick marinade of garlic, ground annatto, salt and pepper for the shrimp. To infuse as much shrimp flavor into the chowder as possible, we started by sautéing the shrimp and then making the refrito or base for the chowder in the same pot.
We used both peeled shrimp and whole shrimp; these last ones are meant to be used to garnish the final dish. If you don’t like or can’t find whole shrimp or prawns then you can use additional peeled shrimp. We used fresh corn, you can use just the kernels or cut it into slices – we used a mix of both. To simplify, or if you can’t find fresh corn during the colder months, you can also use frozen corn. In Ecuador, a locro soup is almost always served with chopped cilantro and avocado, so of course, we served this shrimp and corn locro chowder with cilantro, avocado, and also with chopped green onions, slices of lime, and aji sauce or hot sauce.
Step by step preparation photos for shrimp and corn chowder soup: