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Cajun Shrimp Bisque

Mariel here. My mom presented luscious-looking Crab Ravioli on Tuesday, so I thought I’d follow suit and whip up my own seafood-inspired treat. While I typically don’t cook cajun anything, I stumbled across this delicious soup on, well, StumbleUpon. That’s the magic of these social bookmarks, they open you up to a whole wide world out there, which is important when you’re a freelance writer and your “whole wide world” typically consists of two small rooms in an apartment.

This was the first time I’d ever visited Bev over at Bev Cooks and this was the only recipe I landed upon, so you could say she’s batting 1,000 when it comes to the read/try ratio. I made several changes to the soup, because that’s what I do, but the recipe is hers through and through. And boy was it tasty.

Bev eschews heavy cream in favor of milk, so the consistency is brothier than a restaurant bisque, but it’s positively packed with flavor, in large part because she urges her followers to make their own seafood stock (it’s easy, don’t worry). While she infused her brew with three whopping tablespoons of hot sauce, I halved that and still found it warmed the cockles of my heart(burn).

This makes for a great weekend lunch or a Mardi Gras-inspired dinner. I don’t know how authentically “cajun” it is, what with me being a New Yorker and all, but I can tell you it’s authentically delicious.

Cajun Shrimp Bisque
Serves 5
Adapted from Bev Cooks

Ingredients for the Shrimp Stock:
1 pound shrimp shells (save shrimp for bisque) – $7.99
½ large sweet onion, sliced – $0.89
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns – stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt – stock
2 bay leaves – stock
1 Tablespoon olive oil – stock
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley – $0.79
6 cups water – stock

Ingredients for the Bisque:
4 Tablespoons butter – stock
½ large sweet onion, finely diced – calculated above
2 celery stalks, finely diced – $1.99
3 large cloves of garlic, minced – stock
¼-cup dry cooking sherry – stock
2 Tablespoons flour – stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste – $0.89
2½-3 cups shrimp stock – calculated above
3 cups milk – stock
1 dried bay leaf – stock
1 teaspoon Old Bay – stock
1½ Tablespoons Tabasco or hot sauce – stock
1 pound reserved shrimp, chopped roughly – calculated above
Splash of olive oil – stock
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely diced (optional)
Salt, to taste – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $12.55
Cost per serving: $2.51

Directions for Shrimp Stock:
1. In a large stockpot, bring the water to a boil and toss in all stock ingredients. Boil over med-high heat for 30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about half. Strain the stock into a large bowl and discard the solids. Set aside.

Directions for the Bisque:
1. Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat, add the onions, celery and garlic and saute until tender and turning golden, about 10 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for another two minutes.

2. Add the flour and tomato paste to the ingredients in the stock pot and stir well, ensuring everything is coated. Move the pan to a cool burner and turn off the flame.

3. Add the milk and seafood stock to the stockpot ingredients and whisk until well combined. Add the bay leaf, Old Bay, and Tabasco.

4. Return the stockpot to the hot burner and bring to a gentle, rolling boil over medium-high heat. Stir frequently to avoid burning the bottom. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and warm for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

5. In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil over med-high heat and saute the chopped shrimp until pink and opaque.

6. Add the shrimp to the stockpot and simmer on low for an additional 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt/seasoning as necessary (I didn’t need to add more salt, but everyone’s different).

7. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve hot with crusty bread.