Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Studio 5: Shrimp Bisque for romantic dinner

Avoid the crowds, get a babysitter and stay home for a romantic dinner for two this Valentine's day.  Start your meal with a special dish you would find in a fine restaurant; Shrimp Bisque.

Can be made ahead (day before) for easy, stress-free dinner.

Shrimp Bisque

{Original recipe by Susan Neal}



1 lb large shrimp in shell

1 Qt (32 oz) Seafood Stock

·         If you prefer a less 'seafood' taste, you can use vegetable stock or even chicken stock

1/2 large onion, chopped coarsely

1 large bay leaf


The base of this soup homemade seafood stock.  It's surprising how much flavor is in the shrimp shells.  I always buy shrimp in shell and freeze them for making this soup at a later date.

Saute onion on medium heat in a Tbsp of olive oil for 4-5 minutes until soft (do not brown).  Add shrimp shells.  mix and cook for another 5 minutes until the shells have turned pink.  Add stock and bay leaf.  Add additional water until shrimp shells are just covered.  Bring to a boil and then simmer (lid on) for 15 minutes.

While this is cooking, start soup.  All these ingredients will be pureed in a blender, so cut so vegetable pieces are about the same size, but they don't have to be perfect or small.


2 large carrots, cut into 1/2" chunks

1 large rib of celery, cut into 1/2" chunks

2 leeks, cleaned and sliced (use the white part and about 2" of the green part).

bunch of fresh Thyme (left on stems...just throw it in the pot!)

2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely

1 lemon (zest and juice)

2 Tbsp Flour

1 cup tomato sauce (I use my roasted tomato sauce that I made in the summer, but you can use any tomato product, sauce, stewed, fresh etc...).

1 cup half & half (or cream)

2 tsp. kosher salt

dash or two of cayenne pepper

In a large Dutch oven or pot, add a few Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter.  Add carrots, celery and leek.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  Add lemon zest.

Strain stock into pot (discard shrimp shells, onion and bay leaf). 

Add 1 cup Tomato sauce and mix.  Cook an additional 5 minutes until carrots are soft (this will large depend on the size you cut them).

Carefully place soup into a blender (be sure to vent blender lid, as contents will be hot) and blend on high until very smooth.  Put back in pot.  Season to taste, but approx. 2 tsp salt and a few dashes of cayenne.  You can also add lemon juice, a tsp at a time, to taste.

Add cream.  This can also be to your taste.  You could add milk for a lighter version or cream for a very rich version, or half & half for a nice compromise.  If you like a milder seafood taste, add more cream, or less for a more intense seafood taste.

Reserve 2 whole shrimp for each serving (you should get 4 large servings or 8 smaller servings).

Chop the rest of the shrimp into small pieces and saute in some hot butter with a little salt & pepper.  Cook very quickly and place into soup.

Saute whole shrimp just before serving.

 To serve

You can serve soup and place whole shrimp on top with a sprinkling of green herbs (my preference is chives, but parsley and even cilantro will work), but a really nice touch is to serve the whole shrimp in a puff pastry bowl (Vol au vent).  Not only does this look appetizing, but the pastry pairs nicely with the acidity of the soup.  If you don't do this, make sure to have some nice bread to eat with it.

You can buy pre-made Vol-au-vent pastry in the freezer section of your grocery store, or you can make it easily on your own with pre-made puff pastry dough.  I found a great youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn9jqA6Sh1I) on how to make them.  The only thing I did differently is not pull out the center...I just pushed it in a bit, as I wanted the shrimp to stand up and not sink in the bowl too much.

Pour soup into a bowl (but not all the way to the top, about two thirds.  Place Vol-au-vent in the center and place whole sautéed shrimp in the center. 

Beautiful and tasty and will make someone feel very special!


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