Shrimp and Pumpkin Bisque

As adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfield, copyright 2000

Nothing represents fall better than soup.  And for me, bisque immediately conjures up images of turleneck sweaters, stuffed turkeys, fireplaces, and warmth.  I love the creamy, almost nutty flavors of bisques, and the hearty energy they provide on a cold and rainy day.

This bisque is fantastic.  I mean, wow.  Everything from the roast pumpkin to the shrimp sauteed with sage provides so much depth and flavor.  I feel like the rat from ratatouille who can't help but lose himself in the moment when describing to his less gastronomically-inclined rat friend the joy of combining multiple flavors: pumpkin! shrimp! white wine! butter! sage! cayenne! saffron! Mixed altogether into a soup creates a rat-friendly, perfect fall evening.

Shrimp and Pumpkin Bisque - serves 1
If you use fresh pumpkin (which I highly recommend doing, it makes such a difference with the flavor!), before starting this recipe, cut the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes, roast for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours, and purée. 

4 large shrimp, uncooked and unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoon dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
Pinch saffron threads (about 4 or 5)
1 celery rib, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

1.  Peel and devein shrimp; reserve the shells, and place the shrimp in a bag or container and store in the fridge.  Heat half of the olive oil in a small saucepan over high heat.  Once the oil is smoking, add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring constantly, until they are just beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes. 
2.Add the wine to the pan (be careful that it doesn't ignite - you may want to lift it off the heat for a moment), then boil it over medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated.
3.  Add the chicken stock, saffron, celery, onion, bay leaves, and sage.  Bring to a boil, then simmer gently, partially covered, for about 30 minutes.  Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pushing down on the solids to extract any extra liquid.  Pour the stock back into the saucepan.
4.  Whisk the pumpkin, cream, and cayenne into the stock.  Gently simmer for about 10 more minutes. (This can be made up to 1 day ahead - store, covered in the refigerator; keep the peeled shrimp in a resealable bag in a bowl of ice in the fridge).
5.  Heat the remaining olive oil in a smal skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and sage, and cook until the shrimp are cooked through and slightly crispy, about 3-4 minutes. 
6.  Remove the shrimp from heat, and cut into very small pieces.  Pour the soup into a bowl; lay the shrimp over it.

Voila!! Bon appetit!


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