Shrimp Chowder

Shrimp Chowder
3 large waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold; about 1 lbs)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 lb medium shrimp (35-40 per lb), peeled and deveined, save shrimp shells
1 cups water
1 cup fish stock or clam juice
1 cup milk (not fat-free), or more as needed
6 strips bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut them into inch cubes. Place them in a bowl and cover them with water to prevent discoloring. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot or Dutch over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and stir until they turn pink, about 1 minute. Add the water and fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the liquid into a 1-quart measuring cup. Add milk.

Rinse out the pot and return it to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, along with the bacon, onion and garlic. Saute, stirring often, until the onion softens and the bacon begins to brown, about 7 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and add them to the pot. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the milk-fish stock mixture, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. (The chowder can be made to this point up to 24 hours ahead of serving time. Keep covered in the refrigerator, then return to a simmer over medium heat before continuing).

Uncover the soup and add the cream and shrimp. Return to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

Stir the parsley into the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Carrot Shrimp Chowder Replace the potatoes with 5 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces (there's no need to cover the sliced carrots with water).

Italian Shrimp Chowder Omit the cream and add cup dry vermouth with the shrimp. Add 2 tablespoons minced oregano with the parsley.

Manhattan Shrimp Chowder Replace the milk with additional fish stock or clam juice. Omit the cream, and add one 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, with their juice, with the potatoes.

New Orleans Shrimp Chowder Add 1 green or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped, with the bacon. Omit the cream. Add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste, with the shrimp.

Rock Shrimp Chowder Substitute 1 pound peeled and cleaned rock shrimp for the regular shrimp.

Shrimp and Clam Chowder Add 12 small clams (such as pismo), scrubbed, with the shrimp. Cook for an additional 3 minutes or until the clams open.

Spicy Shrimp Chowder Add 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste, with the bacon.

Makes 4 to 6 servings