Shrimpy, not so Wimpy!

Happy New Year! I have been traveling through England and only just returned to the States last night– it was so nice to start the year off in my own bed! After two weeks of eating out I really wanted to make something fresh today and celebrate the new year. I decided to try making shrimp bisque from scratch and let me tell you, it’s worth making — you’ll celebrate your efforts after! I tried Prawn Bisque while traveling and even though I enjoyed the taste, vowed that when I got home I would attempt to make my own.

This creamy bisque calls for a kick — cayanne pepper. After learning about the cold fighting benefits that cayenne pepper provides, I knew this recipe would be perfect to help fight any illness lurking from traveling & being jet lagged, plus nothing is more comforting than warm creamy soup on a cold day.

Among many other perks, cayenne pepper aids in breaking up and moving congested mucus. Once mucus begins to leave the body, generally relief from flu symptoms follows.

Shrimp bisque is elegant -—typically defined as a creamy, crustacean-based soup—on the menu was once a sure sign that you were dining at a fancy white-tablecloth restaurant. This version is a sophisticated first course for your next dinner party … or self indulgence — either way, enjoy & happy new year!

SHRIMP BISQUE

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp (about 45), peeled, deveined, shells reserved
2 bay leaves, divided
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup brandy (cooking sherry will do fine)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Preparation:
Shrimp stock:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 bay leaf and 8 cups water. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain, discarding solids.
DO AHEAD Shrimp stock can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Image of stock cooking:

20130101-195119.jpg

Bisque:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until just opaque in center, 3-4 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to same pot. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until very soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove pot from heat; add brandy (or sherry) Return pot to heat and stir until almost evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir for 1 minute. Add shrimp stock, remaining bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and ¼ tsp. cayenne. Simmer uncovered until flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Working in batches, purée bisque in a blender until smooth. Stir in cream and reheat bisque over medium heat. Add lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cayenne. serve immediately with chives for garnish.

Image of competed bisque:

20130101-195354.jpg

In health,
Johanna

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