Monday, January 4, 2010

Shrimp bisque, sans legs

I'm coming around to soup. It's been a long and slow process for me, and I still have some places in the Kingdom of Soup I just won't go (that oft-walked alleyway of chicken noodle haunts my nightmares) but in general, it's not so bad.

Tonight we made shrimp bisque. It all started with a can of Cream of Shrimp condensed soup we bought probably a year ago because we saw it in Wegman's and were intrigued. It's sat, unloved, in the pantry since then. Occasionally I look at it and think, "uh, I don't know... a sauce base? For...something? Chicken stuffed with crab and... oh, I'll think about it later," and then pass it by.

For some reason, it popped into my head the other day as a possible base for shrimp bisque. In fact, that's probably why Campbell's makes it and I'm just so soup-averse that it never occurred to me. Darling Husband will probably read this and laugh at how ridiculously dim I can be, but honestly I was thinking casserole and coming up short.

We decided it would need more shrimp, fresh herbs, onion, some wine and some heavy cream. Actually, I probably would've used milk or maybe half and half, but we had cream left over from the souffle and so in it went. I minced the onion and caramelized it in some olive oil, before Darling Husband deglazed with white wine. When we added the cream it occurred to us that we hadn't needed the can after all, but that was the whole point of the exercise so we put it in. After it had all come up to temperature, we slid in the shrimp and let them become pink and lovely. I pureed with a stick blender for consistency, added salt and voila. Bisque. Top portions with chives.

Incidentally, I used to love Wegman's shrimp bisque until they put out recipe cards on how they made it. Apparently, they peel the shrimp and then saute the shells and use them to make the stock. I'm fine with that. But then they puree the shells and everything together into the soup. Uh, eww! There's legs and stuff there!! I'm sure it's great calcium and probably that's where the color comes from and all the rest, but I have to draw the line somewhere and pureed exoskeleton is it. I haven't eaten it since. I choose not to think much about the origins of the can of cream of shrimp soup, by the way.

Our shrimp bisque was thick and slightly coarse, which was a lovely rustic touch. It had a strong shrimp flavor but was, I felt, nicely balanced. In January, my office has a soup party, where several of us make a crock-pot full of our favorite and everyone in the office has soup buffet for lunch. I might just make this. Actually, I won't, because the people in my office wouldn't eat it. Nevermind then. This is private soup.


  1. So, does that mean you office will get chicken noodle?

  2. one year I made carribean pumpkin and black bean, which wasn't really tried. The next year, I made french onion, and when one person said my onions looked like worms, no one ate it. Last year I made kale, potato and sausage soup the way Olive Garden makes it, and I finally got a few takers. This year I might just make ramen noodles. :o)