Shrimp Bisque with Brandy and Sherry

"Customers have told me this version of shrimp bisque beats the ones at the hoity-toity Austin restaurants," David Ansel says. The texture is slightly chunky; if you prefer a smoother soup, strain it before serving.

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  • Servings: 8

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  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus 8 leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 cups fish stock or 2 1/2 cups bottled clam juice mixed with 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make this recipe

  1. In a small saucepan, cover the shrimp shells with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain the shrimp stock into a bowl.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the shrimp, garlic, onion and cayenne and cook over high heat until the shrimp begin to turn pink, about 3 minutes. Add the brandy and boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped basil and the sherry and simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a food processor, add the shrimp stock and puree until smooth.

  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half and cook, whisking, until the roux is very thick, about 2 minutes.

  4. In a soup pot, combine the fish stock with the tomato paste and the shrimp puree and bring to a simmer over high heat. Slowly whisk in the roux and the heavy cream. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the bisque into bowls, garnish with the sliced basil and serve.

Suggested Pairing

To balance the richness of this velvety bisque, try a Chardonnay from Australia's cool Adelaide Hills. This region, east of the city of the same name, produces Chardonnays that combine abundant fruit flavors with firm structure.

Contributed By Published November 2005

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