- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 pounds large shrimp—shelled and deveined, shells reserved
- 3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 4 tarragon sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons chopped leaves
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 cups water
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups corn kernels (from 6 ears)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- In a large soup pot, heat the oil. Add the reserved shrimp shells and cook over moderately high heat until they turn pink, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and one-third of the onions; season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the brandy and cook until it has reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the vegetables are well-coated, about 2 minutes. Add the peppercorns, tarragon sprigs, thyme, garlic, bay leaves and water and bring to a simmer. Cook until the shrimp broth is very flavorful and has reduced to 8 cups, about 45 minutes. Strain the shrimp broth into a large bowl and discard the solids.
- Wipe out the soup pot. Add the butter and melt over moderate heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the remaining onions and the corn and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the reserved broth. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderately low heat for 15 minutes. Raise the heat to moderate. Add the shrimp and cook until white throughout, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the chopped tarragon and serve.
The full-bodied Chardonnays of California's Central Coast, particularly from the relatively warm vineyards of Santa Barbara County (where wine grapes have been grown since 1782), combine tropical fruit flavors with a silken texture that's an ideal complement to this velvety shrimp bisque.