Smokey Spicy Seafood Chowder

This recipe was inspired by the incredible value of the Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood Blend. Over a pound of frozen shrimp, calamari, and scallops for only $7.99, this is one of my favorite proteins to stock up on when I can make it to one of the few TJ’s in Manhattan. In the past I’ve used it to make Seafood Bacon Zucchini Noodles, but I was ready for something new this time around.

I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t matter if it’s January or July -- I can ALWAYS go for a piping hot bowl of soup. I love Butternut Squash Soup in the fall, and Chili is my default for the winter, but something about the seafood medley inspired me to make a hot soup that is still appropriate for summer. Imagine a crawfish boil meets a stew, plus way more colorful vegetables thrown in. It’s also quick, easy, and cost-efficient.

P.S. ... any of my fellow food bloggers have tips for photographing soup? I have so many more amazing, nutritious soup recipes, but they are so BLAH to photograph! Send help + inspiration! Haha

Smokey Spicy Seafood Chowder

Smokey bacon and paprika, plus spicy poblanos and cayenne lend plenty of flavor to this protein-packed soup. Although it lacks the corn or beans of many chowders, this recipe gets its thickness from the addition of mashed potatoes, while staying true to it's paleo nature.

Ingredients

6 thick-cut slices of bacon, diced, plus more for topping (optional)

1 small white onion, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

1 large stalk celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 zucchini, chopped

1 poblano pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

2 quarts homemade bone broth or chicken broth

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, or 2 small potatoes baked, peeled, and mashed

1 package Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood Blend, thawed, OR 1 pound mixed shrimp, scallops, and calamari

Directions

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, cook bacon bits until fat is rendered and meat is crispy, about 5 minutes. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook about 4-5 minutes, until onion and celery are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add the zucchini, poblano pepper, and bell pepper. Stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add seasonings and stir. Add broth and mashed potatoes. Stir well to fully incorporate the potatoes and increase heat to bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving, strain any excess liquid from the seafood medley package. Add seafood to pot and cook until no longer translucent and shrimp is slightly (but not tightly!) curled. This depends on the size of your seafood, but for the minis usually included in the Trader Joe’s pack, this is about 2 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving. Garnish with additional bacon bits if desired.