Chupe de Camarones: Peru’s Traditional Shrimp Chowder

Chupe de Camarones is among the most common foods in Peru.

This classic Peruvian seafood chowder is made with vegetables and shrimp and is often served as the main course. 

Chupe de Camarones is Peru’s national dish and can have varied ingredients depending on cooking style and preference. However, some of the common ingredients include milk, cheese, garlic, eggs, shrimps, fish stock, corn, potatoes, among other vegetables.     

Curious to learn more about the tasty Chupe de Camarones? If so, then you are in the right place.

Read on as we discuss the Peru’s Chupe de Camarones recipe, and what makes this chowder stand out from other delicacies.

A Brief History of the Peruvian Chupe de Camarones

Traditional Peruvian Dish Chupe de Camarones
Traditional Peruvian Dish Chupe de Camarones

Did you know that almost all Peruvian regions have their unique versions of the famous Chupe de Camarones?

However, the most common version of this chowder is from Arequipa, a southern coastal region in Peru.

To trace the Chupe de Camarones` history, you’ll have to go way back to the early 1800s when Spanish settlers introduce milk and eggs to the Peruvian diet.

The introduction of eggs and milk led to the gradual evolution of the shrimp chupe, allowing people to get more creative with their recipes.

Chupe de Camarones was a popular winter soup that was developed by the Inca, an indigenous South American population.

As you look to prepare your version of Chupe de Camarones, it’s crucial to understand that the food comes in many variations and that you can add or remove any of the ingredients to your liking.

Traditionally, most versions of Chupe de Camarones included crayfish. However, over the years, shrimp has become the main seafood ingredient used in most chupes. This dish can act as a starter or as the main meal, depending on how it’s prepared.

For Chupe de Camarones to become the main meal, it’s advisable to include ingredients like corn and potatoes that can be eaten as you enjoy the thick, well-developed soup.

Making Your Homemade Fish Stock

Among the most important ingredients of Chupe de Camarones is fish stock. While you can buy quality fish stock from the store, making your homemade fish stock is also an option. But to make your fish stock from home, you’ll need several pounds of fish bones or heads.

Once you have the fishy ingredients, next is lining up the basic ingredients like peppercorn, bay leaf, carrot, salt, and onions.

The good thing about making your fish stock is that it doesn’t take forever to mature and develop its rich taste. Unlike beef or chicken stock, the fish stock will be ready in approximately 20-30 minutes. 

And since the fish stock is known for its delicate flavor, it’s advisable to check on time to avoid diminishing flavor due to over boiling.  

What Makes Chupe de Camarones Stand Out?

People have different techniques and recipes that they count on to make delicious Chupe de Camarones. However, the types of spices you use play a pivotal role in determining your delicacy’s final taste.

Traditionally, the Chupe de Camarones uses rocoto chilies to elevate the taste. But you can also use habanero pepper if you fancy your soup piping hot.  

But as you add these chilies to your chowder, please be warned that they tend to create extremely hot chupes, so you might want to avoid them if you don’t fancy hot chowders.

The number of chilies included in your Chupe de Camarones should depend on your preferences. Don’t make the chowder too hot if you can’t handle habanero or rocoto chilies.

Peruvian Chupe de Camarones: The Recipe

Bowl of Peruvian Chupe de Carmarones
Chupe de Camarones

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of water
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 500 grams (17.64 oz) of peeled shrimps (shells and heads reserved)
  • ½ yellow onion (diced)
  • Habanero pepper or one red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • Tomato paste (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 ear corn cut into 2-inch (2.54 cm) wheels  
  • 1 medium-size potato (diced)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • ½ cup green peas
  • ½ cup of evaporated milk
  • 2 oz (56.70 g) of queso fresco (crumbled)
  • 4 eggs
  • Powdered cayenne and salt (to taste)

Instructions

  1. The first step is to mix shrimp shells and heads with water (two cups) in a pot. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to the mixture and allow it to boil for 15 minutes before straining and discarding the shells.   
  2. Next, heat butter under medium heat in a non-stick pan. The heat should be medium for the butter to melt gently across the pan. 
  3. After the butter is evenly melted on the pan, next is to add onion, garlic, and the bell peppers. Allow the ingredients to sweat in the heat until the onions begin to turn golden brown.   
  4. Add tomato paste to the mixture and allow it to roast for a maximum of two minutes. The tomato paste should leave the onions and garlic mixture looking thick and red. 
  5. To make the mixture thicker, it’s vital to add a bit of flour to the already cooking ingredients. Gently sprinkle the 1/3 flour on the mixture and stir for a minute or two until the mixture becomes uniform. 
  6. Add 3 cups of water, oregano, and shrimp stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, regularly stirring the mixture to drain the flavor from the ingredients into the soup. 
  7. Add corn, peas, and your cubed potatoes to the mixture, allowing the thick soup to simmer until potatoes are tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). You should work with medium heat to avoid overheating some ingredients. 
  8. Once the potatoes are tender enough, it’s time to add the queso fresco cheese, evaporated milk, and shrimp to the mixture, which should be allowed to simmer. 
  9. Add the eggs to the mixture one by one before introducing the heavy cream. After adding the heavy cream, allow the mixture to simmer for around 3-5 minutes. 
  10. Season the thick soup with powdered cayenne and salt to taste. Avoid adding too much salt at once as this might over salt your Chupe de Camarones, ruining the rich shrimp and vegetable taste.

Variations in Preparing Chupe de Camarones

Chupe de Camarones Classic Peruvian Dish
Chupe de Camarones Classic Peruvian Dish

Vegetables

Preparing Chupe de Camarones is all about allowing your creative juices to flow. On most occasions, Peruvians prefer using choclo (whole ears of corn) cut into small wheels. However, if you don’t fancy using Peruvian corn, you can add pumpkins or any other vegetables of your preference to the main ingredients.

Pumpkins are common alternatives to corn. But if you want to take the soup as a starter, you can opt to leave vegetables such as corn and pumpkins out of the mixture completely.

Eggs

Eggs aren’t essential ingredients in Chupe de Camarones. Not everyone prefers to use eggs in their chupe, which explains why you might find eggs missing in some variations of Chupe de Camarones.

Instead of adding a beaten egg as an ingredient in your chupe, you can fry the egg and add it as a garnish to your thick soup. You can also get creative with ingredients like cheese, using alternatives like grated parmesan or Monterey Jack

Again, preparing Chupe de Camarones is all about adding a spark of creativity to your ingredients.

Wrapping Up

The Chupe de Camarones is among the most popular dishes in Peru. It’ll take you less than forty minutes (depending on ingredients used) to have your thick and tasty soup ready for consumption.

Remember to add ingredients and stir gently under medium heat when preparing this Peruvian treat. 

And you’ll need to be extra careful when selecting your stock as it plays a crucial role in flavoring your chupe. You can also use chunks of fish or a variety of shellfish to add to the soup’s flavor.

Two other traditional Peruvian seafood dishes you should try are Jalea de Mariscos and Parihuela.

To learn more about Peruvian foods, especially the sweet ones, check out 9 Peruvian Desserts You’ll Die For.

And to shop for authentic Peruvian foods and drinks visit our online store.

Sources 

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