Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Easy Shrimp Bisque

A while ago, when it was still winterish around here, I saw the recipe for an easy shrimp bisque by Barefoot Contessa on the food network. I think I drooled as I watched her make it and I couldn't believe how easy it was! I don't have a lot of 'loved' cooks but I do have a couple. Contessa and Jamie Oliver I think happen to be my top 2!

Today I bring you that recipe with my own twists and of course in a gluten free version! You can find the original recipe at the Food Network website. The biggest difference in my recipe vs Contessa's is that I didn't enrich the fish stock with the shells of my shrimp. The reason for that though is simply down to error because I thought I had shrimp with shells but turned out they were completely shelled already. The results were still amazing but I do want to try it with the enriched stock!

 1 pound (1/2 kilo) large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
 ♥ 4 to 6 cups seafood/fish stock
 ♥ 2 cups chopped leeks
 3 cloves garlic, chopped
 ♥ 3 tbs olive oil
 ♥ 1/4 cup each of Cognac and Sherry
 ♥ 4 tbs butter
 1/4 cup gluten free flour
 2 cups soya cream or light cream
 1/3 cup tomato paste
 small pinch cayenne pepper
 salt & pepper

This soup is a little more time intense then my normal creations but it's so worth the efforts and really, it's not *that* much more work. Firstly make sure your shrimp are thawed before using them. In a large soup pot fry the leek for about 10mins in the olive oil. You want them to get soft and translucent like you would if you were frying onions. When soft and tender, add your the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes, add shrimp as well as the pinch of cayenne pepper and cook until the shrimp have turned a wonderful rose pink color.

At this stage, I would put your fish stock into a kettle that is big enough to also add your leek/shrimp mixture to, you'll find out why in the next step. As per the original recipe though, add the 1/4 cup Cognac and cook for 1 minute and then add the 1/4 cup sherry and cook about 3 mins longer. This is not exact rocket science, another minute here or there is not going to matter much.

This is where my recipe differs from Contessa's. Since I do not have a food processor nor a blender that I really care to use for stuff like meat (it's meant for fruit and veggies in my house and only holds a liter if that), I thought, why not use my stick blender instead? So that is exactly what I did. This is now the reason for the kettle big enough to also fit the leek/shrimp mixture. Add your stock to that kettle, add the shrimp & leek mixture but try to reserve a couple of the shrimp for re-addition later.

Whiz the stick blender through the mixture until you produce a thick and still slightly chunky mixture. Set this aside for a moment and add the 4 tbs butter to the original soup pot, melt and add the flour. Cook for about 1 mins and add the light/soya cream to it and whisk (yes with a whisk on this part, not a spoon or such) until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Contessa mentions about 3mins for this process.

Now remember her recipe calls for you to puree the shrimp/leek mixture without the stock. Since I didn't do this with mine, you now return the thicken puree of shrimp/leek to the roux you just made, add the tomato paste and season to taste with salt & pepper. Although I did not find it needed with the salt that is in the stock and the pepper/seasonings already added. Heat the almost complete soup slowly until hot, either toss in the reserved cooked shrimp whole or cut them into smaller pieces and let warm through.

Serve with garlic cheese bread or fresh made biscuits... it's a wonderful hearty stick to your ribs soup that is perfect for a meal of it's own. And it can, if done with care of your ingredients, be low in fat too!

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