photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 6 servings.

1 pound fresh, wild-caught shrimp, deveined
4 cups seafood stock
¼ cup butter
2 cups sweet onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups heavy cream
6 parsley leaves, for garnish

Peel the shrimp and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place the shells and seafood stock in a large pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add 1½ cups water to stock. Set aside. 

In a separate soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and add chopped onion and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat; add minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sherry and stir, scraping up bits of onion mixture. Whisk in stock, tomato paste, salt, white pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Use an immersion or regular blender and blend until completely smooth. If using a regular blender, blend mixture in small batches. Add stock mixture back to soup pot or Dutch oven on medium heat. 

Rough chop the raw shrimp, reserving 6 for garnish, and add to pot. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or just until shrimp start to turn pink. Stir in heavy cream and simmer 4 minutes, just until thickened.

Season to taste and serve hot. Bisque may be refrigerated overnight and reheated slowly before serving. Garnish with a whole shrimp and fresh parsley leaf.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.