Sunday, January 31, 2010

BB: Shrimp Bisque


This weeks recipe (slightly late) for the Barefoot Bloggers, was chosen by  Jennifer of The Blessed Home

 I found this to be a pretty challenging (translation: frustrating) recipe only because of my difficulty in  trying to track down seafood stock. I mean, I live in Chicago, I figured it would be one of those items that wouldn't be too terribly hard to find. I am now educated that this is not the case after trying Jewel, Whole Foods and Trader Joes and finding nothing like it. Finally the fishmonger over at Jewel took pity on me and recommend using clam juice as the basis to make the stock. 

My stock consisted of a bottle of clam juice, one 12 oz can of chicken stock and a 12 oz can of vegetable stock. After simmering the shrimp in it for about 20 minutes, I followed the rest of the recipe somewhat closely (amazing for me), except for substituting regular onions for the leeks which I had forgotten to pick up at the store and was too lazy to go out again as I figured it would give me an excuse to say I'd run out of time for making the recipe. That, and subsituting Ancho Chili Powder for Cayenne pepper for the same laziness excuse. 

Apart from finding my food processor would not work after I poured the shrimp mix in and breaking my glass measuring cup when the chaos in the kitchen got to be too much for my counter, the actual cooking process wasn't too bad. Although, this is not the kind of recipe that I would make on a weekday. And I think I would puree the soup after final assembly as I found there to be just a few too many chewy bits for my liking.


  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 4 cups seafood stock
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add enough water to make 3 3/4 cups.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the leeks are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and cook for 1 minute, then the sherry and cook for 3 minutes longer. Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.

In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the half-and-half and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and heat gently until hot but not boiling. Season, to taste, and serve hot.


  1. Well, good for you for even trying this. I have never even made a bisque as I could never be bothered - also, I really don't like pureed soups. Did your kitty go crazy with all the fishy smells???

  2. Coyote...surprisingly, Katie was relatively indifferent to the whole process. Then again, she's really not much into begging for table scraps at all which is a bit of a counter shock to me compared to the boys who would crawl all over you for a bite.