Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I know it sounds weird because we're about a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, but you can get local shrimp here in Michigan because the Shrimp Farm Market in Okemos has a sustainable shrimp farm! (If you're here in Ann Arbor you can buy the little buggers at Arbor Farms Market.)
The shrimp doesn't taste like just out of the water wild shrimp (then again neither does any of the shrimp you buy at the grocery store) but they are fresh, sustainable and local so we decided to give them a try.
Since we had a lot of fennel to eat, I decided to make a fennel and shrimp soup. It was delicious.
Since so many soup recipes I've been reading lately call for bacon or ham hock and I don't eat meat I've been using butter, a little liquid smoke and some mushroom broth. Liquid smoke only sounds artificial and wrong- it's really just, well, liquid smoke. I'm not sure my little concoction tastes anything like bacon because it's a very, very long time since I've eaten it, but it gives soups a nice richness and depth which I think is the point of the bacon anyway. (Steven likes it, and he likes bacon.)
Recipe makes about 12 main courses and freezes well (we have a lot of fennel!)
2 pounds shrimp (shell on)
8 cloves garlic
4 bulbs of fennel
1 1/2 cups white wine
6 1/2 cups water
2 medium onions
1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
3 pounds potatoes (I like Yukon Gold)
3/4 cup tomato sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
a few dashes of liquid smoke
1 heaping teaspoon "better than bouillon" mushroom base
Peel and chop the shrimp into bite sized pieces, saving the shells, and set aside.
Trim the fennel bulbs. Remove the fronds and stalks, chop some of the fronds for garnish and cut the stalks into 2" pieces. Cut the remaining bulb lengthwise, remove the core and chop the fennel into 1/4" slices.
To make the broth heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a soup pot over medium high heat. Crush 4 cloves of the garlic with the side of a knife and saute for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Add the shrimp shells and saute until they turn bright pink and get fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, water, and fennel stems and simmer for about a half hour.
Meanwhile, chop the onions and the remaining 4 cloves of the garlic. Cut the potatoes into 1" cubes.
When the broth is almost ready you can start the soup. Add the remaining olive oil and the butter to another soup pot and heat until the butter melts and starts to smell nutty. Add a few dashes of liquid smoke and the mushroom base, thinned out in the remaining half cup of water. Add the chopped garlic and onions and saute for a minute or two. Add the sliced fennel and fennel seeds and saute over medium heat until the fennel and onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
Strain the broth and add it to the vegetables with the potatoes and bring it to a boil. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are cooked through- about 10 minutes.
Puree the soup in batches in a food processor. Return it to the stove and heat until it almost starts to boil, add the shrimp. Cook a few minutes more until the shrimp are just cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve, topping with a few of the reserved fennel fronds.