The night before Christmas is a time to impress guests by serving a menu that looks like you pulled out all the stops. With this virtually make-ahead meal, you’ll be able to relax with everyone else.
This rich and creamy shrimp soup is made in the style of a classic bisque, with rice, seafood meat, and shells puréed to give it body. But the shrimp shells aren’t there just to thicken. They also add tons of flavor when browned in butter and puréed.
Test Kitchen Tips
Take note — just one pound of shrimp goes into making the bisque. To prepare it ahead, wait to cook the remaining shrimp until right before you plan to serve the soup. Then when you’re ready, gently reheat it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.
It’s important to purée the soup with the shells in small batches. Remove the center of the blender lid, then cover the lid with a towel to control any blowouts.
Purchased seafood stock is a great convenience item, but if you really want to go all out, consider making your own stock for this bisque.
Heat 4 Tbsp. butter in a large pot over high until foamy. Cook shrimp, in 2 batches, until pink and firm, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Add remaining 4 Tbsp. butter and sauté shrimp shells until golden, 4 minutes.
Deglaze pot with ⅔ cup brandy, scraping up any brown bits; cook until it thickens. Stir in stock, thyme, and bay leaves; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to mediumlow and simmer 30 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaves.
Purée bisque, in batches, then thoroughly strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids. Return all but 2 cups bisque to pot over medium heat.
Purée half the cooked shrimp with reserved bisque until very smooth; stir into bisque in pot.
Stir in cream and lemon juice, then season bisque with brandy, cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Garnish each serving with remaining shrimp.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 38%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Cholesterol 259mg 86%
Sodium 1546mg 64%
Carbs 22g 7%
Fiber 2g 8%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.