I’ve decided that pumpkin is the most versatile food on Earth. You can use it equally in savory or sweet dishes, and it works with a wide variety of flavor profiles, from sweet maple/vanilla to sage/nutmeg to curries or gingery flavors. I think those are the most popular combinations, but I also love trying out new flavor groupings. So when I was looking up shrimp bisque recipes (as I’ve never made a bisque before) and came across this one on Epicurious for pumpkin shrimp bisque, I was instantly sold and knew that this was the one I had to make.
But you know me, am I ever one to make a recipe by the book? Well, rarely. I added in potatoes and corn to give this a bit of a heartier feel, a bit more cream, and added one spice that I just love – a Hungarian smoked paprika – that along with the saffron really gave my soup a great vibrant color. If you didn’t know, paprika is a spice made from peppers (hot or sweet), and can vary quite widely in taste. The paprika that I have has just a slight bit of heat and a really nice Earthy tone that I love to use in a variety of dishes. Given that I typically think of shrimp bisque as having a bit of a cajun feel, I thought the paprika would go really well here. Seriously, this stuff has far more uses than just sprinkling on your deviled eggs. One can also be fairly generous with the amount you use as far as spices go, as it tends to blend nicely rather than stand out or be especially overpowering. I used a good full teaspoon here.
However, one should be a little bit more conservative with the cayenne. My husband was hilarious because as I was making this soup for my family, I had asked him how much heat everyone could handle. He recalled to me how my dad really laid on the cayenne in a meal a few weeks ago, and so I should use a lot to make sure my dad would like it. So I just kept shaking as he was talking until I finally figured out that he had confused cumin for cayenne. Oops! So my soup was a tad bit spicy. Don’t do that. I just wasn’t thinking. If I had thought about it, it’d be obvious not to add so much. Oh well!
Overall? This was a great soup. Hearty and filling, full of flavor, and just overall delicious. Some bread toasted with cheddar cheese on it (just under the broiler quick) is a great accompaniment.
Pumpkin + shrimp, paprika, saffron = great yummy flavor combo!
P.S. Yes, haha, I often write in equation form, it’s a natural consequence of being a scientist
1 lb. medium sized fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails reserved
2 tbs. olive oil
3/4 c. sherry
4 c. seafood stock
1 tsp. paprika
3 sage leaves
3 bay leaves
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 c. corn (frozen)
1/2 lb. new potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. heavy cream
cayenne, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
black pepper, to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a pan (medium) and saute the tails until fully cooked and just starting to brown. Add the sherry and let boil until the liquid is gone.
2. Add the rest of the stock ingredients – stock, saffron, paprika, sage, bay leaves, celery, onion – and bring to a boil. Then let boil for a good 30 minutes covered to let the stock develop its flavor. After that strain the broth and return to the pot. Add in the potatoes and corn and bring back to a boil, and cook another 10 minutes or so until the potatoes are soft. It won’t take very long because the potatoes are cut pretty small.
3. While that is boiling, chop shrimp into thirds and saute in a pan with some olive oil until cooked (just a few minutes are needed).
4. With a wooden spoon, stir in the pumpkin, then heavy cream and cayenne and bring it back to just a simmer. Let simmer 10 minutes. Then add shrimp, lemon juice and pepper. Pour into bowls and serve! I tried garnishing with paprika. It looks odd as a soup garnish.
Note – if you sub in the turnips for potatoes and omit the corn, this can be quite diabetic friendly, as that 1/2 lb. will be spread out through a good 4-6 servings.