Sunday, March 24, 2013

Souper Sunday #13: Shrimp Bisque

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Bonjour and ooh la la!

What is a bisque?  Well, it's delicious, I know that.  But as for what differentiates a bisque from any other soup, I didn't really I looked it up.  According to the internet, a bisque is a rich, cream soup of French origin, usually made with shellfish and thickened with pureed rice.  That sounds pretty much exactly like the soup that I made this afternoon - a shrimp bisque.  I felt kind of, I dunno, fancy-pants classy making and eating this today.  Like, because I knew what a bisque was today and I didn't know what a bisque was yesterday, and because it was French cuisine which always seems upscale to me.

Nothing is wasted...the shells are boiled to get every bit of delicious flavour from them before the mixture is strained to become your shrimp broth.  This step gives the soup such a rich flavour.  It takes a bit of time to remove the shells from all of the shrimp and then to devein each and every one, but as soon as you throw the shells into the pot and add the butter - wowee!  The Hubby and I were holding the pot up to our noses just to get a deeper whiff.

I highly recommend investing in an immersion blender if you don't have one already.  Once again today it made everything a cinch by reducing the fuss during the pureeing stage of the recipe.  Alternatively you could just transfer in batches to a blender and puree there, but having the ability to puree the bisque right in the pot is very convenient.

I can't believe that it's Week 13 of Souper Sunday already, and I feel like I'm just getting started with it!  I have so many soup recipes still to try.  To view some of the recent Souper Sunday soups, click here to go to the Souper Sunday page.  My favourites from January and February are below:

January                                                  February
Curried Chicken and Rice Soup                           Italian Sausage Soup

Have a great week everyone!


Shrimp Bisque

Serves: 4 - 6


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 pound medium shrimp (about 45), peeled, deveined, shells reserved
  • 2 bay leaves, divided
  • 2 carrots, peeled then chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add the 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.  Using a fine-mesh strainer and a large bowl, strain the shrimp broth, discarding the solids.

Melt another tablespoon butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until just opaque in the centre, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter to the same pot.  Add the carrots, celery, and onion, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, and add the brandy.  Return the pot to the heat and stir until the brandy is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Add the rice and tomato paste, and stir for 1 minute.  Add the shrimp stock, the remaining bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and cayenne pepper.  Simmer uncovered until the rice is soft, about 20 minutes.  Remove the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.  Add the salt and pepper.  Reserve 4 shrimp for later use as the garnish, and stir the remaining shrimp into the bisque.

Using an immersion blender, puree the bisque in the pot.  Alternatively, puree the bisque in a blender, working in batches.  Stir in the cream and reheat the bisque over medium heat.  Add the lemon juice.  Season to taste with more salt, pepper, or cayenne pepper, if desired.

Mince the 4 reserved shrimp and mix together with the chives in a small bowl.

Place a heaping tablespoon of the shrimp/chive mixture into the centre of a large shallow soup bowl.  Ladle the bisque around the garnish and serve hot.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source: Bon Appetit - June 2011
One Year Ago:  Very Berry Muffins (not gluten-free)

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