Prep 25 mins
Cook 2 hrs
From THE HERBFARM COOKBOOK by Jerry Traunfeld. Copyright ©2000 Buttery, slightly sweet pumpkin is the perfect mate for the briny flavor of oysters, scallops, or other crustaceans. This soup is made with shrimp, whose shells are turned into an aromatic stock that serves as the soup's liquid. Classic shellfish bisques are thickened with rice, but here pumpkin provides body for the soup. Sage's earthy flavor complements both pumpkin and shrimp and steers the focus of flavor from sweet to savory. This is a satisfying soup to prepare throughout the fall. If you serve it as a first course for Thanksgiving dinner, you might start a tradition in your family.
- 1 lb large shrimp (16 to 20)
For Shrimp Stock
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3⁄4 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 pinch saffron thread (about 24)
- 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
- 1 (8 ounce) onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 fresh bay leaves, torn or
- 2 dried bay leaves, torn
- 3 (3 inch) fresh sage sprigs
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt, less if using canned stock
- 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1. Shrimp stock:
- Peel and devein shrimp, reserving the shells. Cover the shrimp and refrigerate. Heat the olive oil in a medium (3-quart) heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the shrimp shells to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until they turn deep orange and are just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. This step—pan roasting the shells—gives the stock much of its flavor, so take the time to do it carefully. The roasted shells should release a concentrated, toasty, shrimp aroma that will fill your kitchen. Add the wine to the pan, first turning off gas flames to prevent the alcohol from igniting, then boil it over medium heat until all the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken stock, saffron, celery, onion, bay leaves, and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pushing down on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid. Rinse out the saucepan and pour the stock back into it.
- 2. Soup:
- Whisk the pumpkin, cream, salt (omit if using canned stock), and cayenne into the shrimp stock. Bring the soup to a simmer, then cook very gently uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, taste, and season with black pepper and more salt if needed. (The soup can be made up to this point up to 1 day ahead store covered in the refrigerator. Keep the peeled shrimp in a resealable bag buried in a bowl of ice in the refrigerator.)
- 3. Finishing the soup:
- Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan placed over medium heat. When hot, add the reserved shrimp and sage and cook, tossing often, until the shrimp is just cooked through, pink, and no longer translucent, but not curled into a circle, 2 to 3 minutes. They should still have a tender snap when you bite into them. Arrange the shrimp in warmed serving bowls or a tureen. Bring the soup back to a simmer and then ladle it over the shrimp. Serve right away.
- To make fresh pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. Place it cut side down in a baking dish and pour in about 1/4 inch of hot water. Bake it in a 400°F oven until the flesh is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Turn the pumpkin halves cut side up to cool. Scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skin and purée it in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the purée to a large sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth and let it drain for 2-3 hours until it is firm enough to hold its shape on a spoon.
- Substitute winter squash purée, such as butternut or acorn, for the pumpkin.