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shrimp & crab bisque with parmesan croutons

Makes 10-12 hors d’oeuvre-size servings

I serve this creamy soup in lots of different ways. In the Holiday Toast, I used it as an hors d’oeuvre, presenting it in elegant small glasses, but this recipe can serve up to six people as an appetizer course before a meal, or four for a main course (try serving it over white rice).

  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, heads on
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup fino sherry
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
  • 16 ounces light or fat-free evaporated milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 recipe Parmesan Croutons (below)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Peel, devein, and rinse the shrimp, then pat them dry, chop them into small pieces, and set aside. Reserve the shells.

In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it is tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, bell pepper, garlic, and shrimp shells and sauté for another 8 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, tarragon, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Carefully add the sherry and Grand Marnier, and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean pot and place it over medium heat.

Add the flour slowly, using a whisk to stir, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and crabmeat and cook for another 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the evaporated milk, stirring to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan Croutons and top with a sprinkle of cilantro.

Parmesan Croutons

Can be made a day ahead, and kept covered in an airtight container.

  • 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Toss the bread cubes with the olive oil. Combine the garlic powder, salt, and Parmesan, and sprinkle over the bread, gently tossing t0 coat. Arrange the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake till golden brown, turning them as necessary (8 to 10 minutes).

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