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Shrimp Bisque
Yield: 4 servings

2 lb fresh shrimp, lobster or crayfish
1 Tbsp safflower or olive oil
1 leek, cleaned & sliced coarsely
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove peeled & minced
1 Tbsp tomato puree
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
2 qt water
1 chicken bouillon cube crushed
1 pinch saffron

1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 bay leaf, and 6 fresh parsley stems (tied in cheesecloth)

salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp cornstarch
4 Tbsp non-fat powdered milk
1/2 tsp Cognac, Armagnac or brandy
4 basil leaves, minced
1 tsp tarragon, minced
1 Tbsp minced chives

Separate thet tail from the shrimp and remove the meat, reserving
all shells, claws, heads and so forth. If you wish, devein the
tails, then cover and refrigerate. Coarsely chop the heads and
shells, reserving 4 heads for decoration, if you have them. In a
large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat, then add the shrimp
shells and cook them. Stir slowly but continuously for 5 minutes.
Add the vegetables and tomato puree and cook another 5 minutes,
stirring. Add the wine and bring to the boil for 30 seconds, scraping
the bottom to dissolve any coagulated juices. Add the water, bouillon
cube, saffron and herb bouquet. Return to a simmer and cook, covered,
for 1 hour. Pour the stock through a fine strainer into a bowl,
pressing down on the vegetables and shrimp shells with a soup ladle
to extract all of the liquid. (For a finer result, strain again
through cheesecloth.) Return the stock to the boil. Moisten the
cornstarch in a little cold water, then add it to the saucepan and
boil for 4 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Bring the stock to
a simmer. Add the shrimp tails and let them cook a bare 2 minutes
(for small or medium), or 3 minutes for extra large. Remove
immediately with a slotted spoon and divide them among 4 heated
soup plates. Pour the stock into a blender, add the powdered milk
and cognac. Blend until smooth and homogeneous. Pour immediately
into the soup plates over the shrimp tails. Garnish each dish with
an equal amount of the herbs and a shrimp head (optional).


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