Shrimp Bisque

Monday, April 11, 2011

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We recently got some wild Key West pink shrimp from Whole Foods, so I decided to make something interesting and settled on a shrimp bisque.

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A bisque is a shellfish based thick, creamy soup. French in origin, it is typically made with lobster, crab or shrimp base, along with vegetables like shallots or onion, leeks, carrots and celery which are cooked and then pureed together with the shellfish to make the soup thick; alternatively the bisque is thickened with a thickener like flour or actual ground up bits of shell. The bisque also uses cream and is improved with cognac together with wine or sherry.

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We were out of cognac, but we had some left-over white wine, along with some shallots and leeks which I ended up using in my recipe.

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I found that at the end the soup was just begging for some acidity, so I added a splash of lemon juice.

Shrimp bisque
(Serves 4)

You will need:
4 tbsp of butter, divided
1 pound of raw unpeeled shrimp, thawed if frozen (36-40 per lb)
32 oz (4 cups) seafood stock
2 medium shallots, chopped
1-2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 leeks, washed thoroughly and chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more sprigs for garnish
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
Splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 tbsp, optional)

Directions:
1. Peel and devein shrimp, remove tails. Reserve the shells, refrigerate the shrimp. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large sauté pan. Add shells and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add seafood stock and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, reserving the stock. Discard the shells.

2. In a stock pot, melt the remaining 3 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add shallots and carrots and sauté until shallots are translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add leeks, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft. Add shrimp, garlic and parsley and cook, stirring frequently until the shrimp are cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and paprika. Then add the wine, and stir for 1 minute. Add the reserved stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

3. Strain the solids reserving both the solids and the stock. Puree just the solids in a food processor, in batches if necessary, reserving a few whole shrimp for garnish. Then add the puree back to the pot and ladle the reserved stock to desired thickness over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the milk. Add a splash of lemon juice. When the soup begins to boil, turn off the heat. Serve immediately with sprigs of parsley and the reserved shrimp for garnish.

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