A cold, foggy coastal day… in Colorado! This creamy, warming shellfish soup has hints of paprika and a mild kick of cayenne at the end. Full of chowdery fish flavor, yet is dairy- and gluten-free. Cashew cream is used to thicken – no heavy cream and flour.
Cooking Tip: The shells of shellfish are loaded with flavor and minerals. Save and freeze them for fish stock (simmer in water for 20 minutes) or steep them into the recipe’s liquid ingredients. I use a cheesecloth or a large mesh steeping bag to hold them in one place for easy straining later.
Cheesecloth or mesh steeping bag
Cooking twine (not needed if using a steeping bag)
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, in the shell
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
1 medium leek, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups (16 oz) clam juice
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups cream or optional cashew cream (for cashew cream, see below)
3 tablespoons dry white wine or lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (go slow – check sodium content of clam juice)
fresh parsley and paprika (for garnish)
CASHEW CREAM (OPTIONAL)
1 cup cashews, preferably soaked overnight in water to cover, optionally soaked 30 minutes
1 1/2 cups water
Remove the shells from the shrimp and place the shells into a cheesecloth tied with a piece of cooking twine, or use a large mesh steeping bag.
Toss the shrimp with the spices and salt in a medium bowl. Heat the ghee in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a relatively single layer, and cook without flipping for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Toss and brown again for another 1-2 minutes.
Remove 2 pieces of shrimp per each serving to use as the garnish (8 pieces for 4 servings).
Leave the remaining shrimp in the pot and add the oil and veggies, cooking for 3 minutes, until soft. Add the tomato paste, clam juice, water, thyme, bay leaf and shrimp shells. Turn the heat low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
For the optional cashew cream, rinse the soaked cashews and place them into a food processor with the water. Blend until smooth. (If making the soup right away, don’t bother rinsing the bowl.)
When the soup is done cooking, remove the shells and bay leaf. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend until creamy. Add the wine and salt. Taste, adding more wine or lemon juice to brighten, or salt to bring up the flavors.
Ladle into bowls and place 2 whole shrimp into each bowl. Sprinkle with a little paprika and tuck a parsley sprig into the shrimp. Serve warm.