It's recipe swap time again, hosted by A Taste of Home Cooking. This go-round was "special occasion" themed, in honor of Valentine's Day.
"Special occasion" meals often involve more expensive or exotic ingredients — splurges, indulgences . . . after all, isn't that what special occasions are all about? Our host asked us to be considerate of others' budgets, and offer two options if your first choice was on the expensive side.
So, from So Tasty, So Yummy, I received the option of either Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce or Shrimp Bisque. As much as I *really* wanted the beef tenderloin, it is an expensive cut of meat that just didn't fit into our budget.
Reading through the recipe, the soup is unlike most other bisques I've had. I've made crab bisque before, and it was a thick, creamy, smooth soup. This soup had whole shrimps in a tomato/cream broth. I'm not a fan of tomato-based soups (I don't like tomato soup, Manhattan clam chowder, or pasta fagioli). To be honest, I wasn't really looking forward to it.
To my happy surprise, there wasn't a strong tomato flavor to the broth, likely thanks to the shrimp stock. No, the broth wasn't thick, but it tasted creamy and rich. We both really enjoyed this soup, which I served with a butter lettuce salad with red wine vinaigrette and French bread.
Slightly adapted from So Tasty, So Yummy
- 2 pounds unpeeled shrimp
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 10 cups water
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- ¼ cup Madeira wine
- ¼ cup brandy
- 6 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Peel the shrimp (de-vein if necessary*), reserving the shells. Coarsely chop the shrimp. Cover the shrimp and chill until needed.
- Set a stockpot over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Once the oil has heated, add the shrimp shells and chopped onion to the pot; sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the shells turn pink.
- Add the water, bay leaves, and thyme; increase the heat to high to bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve; discard the contents of the sieve.
- In a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- In a small bowl, combine Madeira, brandy and flour, stirring with a whisk until completely smooth. Add the mixture to the skillet; cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add the shrimp stock, salt, and pepper; bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 4 minutes or until bisque starts to thicken, stirring frequently.
- Add the chopped shrimp and cook for 3 minutes or until shrimp are pink. Stir in the cream. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.
* I bought a frozen bag of "Easy-Peel" shrimp. They are already de-veined, and the shells are split, but still on.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6 to 8