Don’t skimp when making this satisfying soup
There are recipes when cutting corners makes sense, saves time and the resulting dish doesn’t suffer. This isn’t one of those times; this isn’t one of those recipes.
Using the shrimp shells to make homemade stock is an essential first step to creating this satisfying soup. The resulting rich, fragrant, deeply flavorful broth is worth the small investment of your time.
SIMPLE SHRIMP SOUP
Servings: 4 to 6
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, shelled, shells reserved
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
2⁄3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon brandy
5 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 celery ribs, chopped, leaves reserved for garnish
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped, fronds reserved for garnish
¼ cup long-grain rice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt and cook shrimp shells, stirring frequently, until lightly browned in spots, 3-4 minutes. Add wine and brandy and boil until most of the liquid is evaporated.
Add 6 cups water, thyme, bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Strain stock into a bowl, pressing on shells before discarding them.
In same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat; add 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Add shrimp and sauté until they’re pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl.
Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to pot along with celery, leeks, garlic and fennel and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, tomato paste, cayenne and remaining salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add shrimp stock and put lid on pot. Simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Choose 4 to 6 nice-looking shrimp and set aside. Stir remaining shrimp into soup and let cook for 2 minutes. Working carefully and in batches, pour bisque into a blender and process to a smooth purée or pulse to a rustic chunky mixture (an immersion blender also works well). Return soup to pot and stir in the lemon juice. Reheat if necessary before serving.
Ladle soup into each bowl, top with a shrimp and garnish with celery leaves and fennel fronds. Serve immediately.
Alicia Cahill is the owner of The Kitchen Chick, 2402 Market St. in Galveston.