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Appetizers, Fish and Shellfish, Soups

Brigtsen's butternut shrimp bisque

Brigtsen's butternut shrimp bisque
Los Angeles Times

This time of year always makes me anxious: so many squashes, so little time. Farmers markets are all cascading with kabocha and buttercup and other varieties with deep flavors and short seasons, and I can't bake and butter them fast ... Read more

Total time: About 1 hour | Serves 6 to 8
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, heads on
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups (about 1 medium) peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh basil, very finely chopped
  • 18 to 24 whole shrimp, butterflied and sauteed, for garnish

Step 1Shell the shrimp. Place the heads and shells in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Strain the broth and reserve.

Step 2Heat a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter, the onions and bay leaf. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions start to brown, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Step 3Reduce the heat to medium and add the squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash begins to soften and turn brown, 7 to 8 minutes.

Step 4Reduce the heat to low and add 1 tablespoon butter and the peeled shrimp. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimps turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 5Add the salt, white pepper, cayenne, basil, thyme and garlic. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a metal spoon. (This procedure will intensify the taste of the soup.) Add 1 1/2 cups reserved shrimp stock and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 6Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the contents to a food processor and puree until smooth. Return the puree to a clean saucepan and add the cream and half-and-half. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Just before serving, add the fresh basil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Top each serving with several sauteed shrimp.

Note: This hyper-rich soup is adapted from a recipe by Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen's in New Orleans. Shrimps with heads on are available in Asian markets.

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