- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh red chiles (from about 2 chiles)
- 1 quart bottled clam juice
- 3/4 pound medium shrimp, shells removed and reserved, shrimp cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 3 leeks, white and light-green parts only, split lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and washed well
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 sweet potato (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- Pinch fresh-ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or scallion tops
- In a medium pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add half the onions and all the chiles and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, shrimp shells, tomato paste and water. Raise the heat to moderately high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1 quart, about 20 minutes. Strain the shrimp stock into a large bowl. Press the shrimp shells firmly to get all the liquid.
- In a large pot, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add the remaining onion, the leeks, celery and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp stock and the sweet potato and simmer until the potato is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and bacon to the pot and cook until the shrimp are just done, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk, paprika, salt and pepper and heat through. Do not let the chowder boil, or it may curdle. Ladle into bowls and top with the chives.
Try a very young bottle of Viognier from either California or France. Its clean, neutral taste will pair nicely with the slight heat of this dish.