Soupe de poisson. That’s fish soup to you and me. More specifically, I’m making bisque de crevettes, and that would be shrimp bisque. Seafood bisque refers to a puréed soup enhanced by cream with either lobster or shrimp as the principal player in the dish. The addition of shrimp stock made from shrimp shells and heads enrich my bisque.
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- 4 TB unsalted butter
- 2 ½ lbs. heads-on, shells-on shrimp
- 2-inch length of leek, thinly sliced
- 2 TB peeled and diced carrot
- 2 TB diced celery
- 1 TB diced green pepper
- 1 TB diced red pepper
- 4 large mushrooms, sliced
- 2 TB flour
- 1 cup shrimp stock (see Shrimp Stock recipe below)
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 TB lemon juice
- ⅛ - ¼ cup sherry, to taste
- 1 -2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- SHRIMP STOCK
- 2 TB unsalted butter
- 4 fresh bay leaves (or 2 dried)
- Few sprigs of fresh oregano and thyme
- 1 small onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 carrot
- 1 TB extra light olive oil
- Heads and shells from 2 ½ pounds shrimp
- (see the Shrimp Bisque recipe)
- 2 qts. water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 heaping TB whole peppercorns
- Remove the shrimp heads and shells and reserve them for your stock (see the Shrimp Stock recipe). This yields about a pound of shrimp for the bisque, which you should de-tract. (That’s not a vein going down the back of the shrimp, so I don’t say de-vein the shrimp. It’s the digestive tract.)
- Add 2 TB of the butter to a pot set over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, add the shrimp and cook for three minutes while stirring. Reserve a few whole shrimp for garnish. Coarsely chop the rest and process them with 1½ cups of the whipping cream until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
- In a stockpot, melt the remaining unsalted butter. Add the leek, carrot, celery, peppers, and mushrooms. Cook over medium-low heat about two minutes while stirring.
- Add the flour. Cook two more minutes over medium heat to cook the raw flour taste out.
- Add the shrimp stock, remaining whipping cream, Worcestershire, lemon juice, sherry, and your processed shrimp/cream mixture. Heat through over low heat for about five minutes. If the bisque is too thick for your tastes, thin it out a bit with cream or milk. Salt and pepper to taste.
- SHRIMP STOCK Coarse-chop the onion, carrot, and celery. Don’t bother peeling the onion or the carrot; that’s just more flavor for the stock. Also, I cut the celery and the carrots on the diagonal, exposing more surface area for extra flavor.
- In a stock pan, melt your butter over medium-low heat. When the butter bubbles, add all the aromatics (bay, oregano, and thyme) along with the chopped onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté for about five minutes, stirring.
- Add the olive oil and the shrimp heads and shells. Cook – while stirring and scraping up from bottom – another five minutes, until the shells turn pinkish. You should also break up the shells and heads with a wooden spoon to release their flavor.
- Add water, salt, and peppercorns and increase the heat to medium. When the water comes to a bare simmer, turn the heat down to low. You do not want your stock to boil, or even come to a full simmer. Just a little movement under the surface is fine. Agitation from boiling water can compromise your stock by roiling up impurities, which cloud the liquid and detrimentally affect the flavor of your product. Your seafood stock will be ready in about 45 minutes.
- Strain the stock through several layers of cheesecloth lining a fine sieve. Set aside.
- Optional: Garnish the bisque with whole shrimp, Basil-Infused Oil, and Cayenne-Infused Oil.
- BASIL-INFUSED OIL
- Blanch two cups of fresh basil leaves in one quart of boiling water for 20 seconds. Plunge the basil leaves into ice water bath before draining them. Process the basil with one cup of canola oil until the mixture is smooth. Fill a small squirt bottle with the oil.
- CAYENNE-INFUSED OIL
- In small skillet, dry toast one tablespoon of cayenne powder and one tablespoon of paprika over medium-low heat. When the spices start releasing their flavor, add two tablespoons of canola oil and heat for about two minutes. Let the mixture cool, and then fill a small plastic squirt bottle with the oil.
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