shrimp bisque There is something inescapably elegant about bisques. Last weekend I attempted a crayfish bisque, only to discover that crawfish haven’t yet made their migratory journey (by truck, I believe) from the murky waters of Louisiana to the salmon-packed streams of Washington. So, shrimp was the next best choice.

Makes: 6 handsome bowlfuls
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb uncooked shell-on medium shrimp
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 5 oz can of tomato paste (the small cans, you’ll see ’em)
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  • 2 cups seafood stock (in a box, next to the chicken and beef stock)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (to garnish)
  1. Shell and clean the shrimp, reserving shells in a bowl. Cut the shelled shrimp into 1/2″ pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large stockpot until melted. Add the shrimp shells and cook over medium-high heat about 3 minutes. Remove the shells and discard them.
  3. Add the onion and leek to the butter. Sweat over medium high heat until they start to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Be sure not to overheat the pan or the butter may separate and burn.
  4. Add the Brandy to deglaze the pan. Flambe (hold a lighter in the pan, with your head far away).
  5. Add the tomato paste and shrimp. Cook about 1 minute.
  6. Add the wine, seafood stock, cream and seasonings. Reduce to a simmer. At this point, you will want to taste the bisque and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning on the bottom of the pot.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the parsley.

This soup is great as a starter or an entree. Add a really good baguette and a dry white wine and you’ve got a meal befitting the best yacht club in town.

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