My Prawn, Calamari and Mussel Bisque Recipe

I love soups, especially in Autumn. All kinds of soups, the pureed creamy variety (butternut soup and courgette soup), the chunky American kind (chowders and gumbos) and the typically British variety (meat and potatoes etc). All are popular in South Africa, although we give them various names.

Another reason I always chime on about soups is because of my obsession with stocks. If you’ve followed my blog for a while or have a copy of my first book Dijo (if you don’t, I’m seriously judging you right now) then you’ll know how I feel about peoplewp-1587979304068437403654447101692.jpg making their own stocks at home from scratch. They are the base of all good sauces and soups. So when you see a soup recipe from me, be ready to see the word “stock” somewhere in the ingredients.

This recipe is for a creamy seafood soup called a bisque. If you ever see cream in a soup recipe 90% of the time the soup will have French roots. They love cream, butter and wine…and all of those ingredients are in this recipe. What is a bisque? A bisque is a smooth and creamy seafood soup, it’s classically made with the broth from strained crustacean shells (I always tell people not to throw away the heads and shells of prawns and crayfish that they’ve peeled and rather to freeze them, this is the reason why. They make for an awesome soup). Prawns, lobsters, shrimp etc are traditionally used for this soup, I’ve twisted mine a bit and added mussels and calamari tentacles (please use tentacles and not rings or tubes). It’s awesome and really really tasty. The way I was taught to make it at chef school involved using arborio rice to thicken the soup but I’ve found it added a weird texture to the soup, so I’ve stopped doing that over the years as I’ve perfected the soup. It’s a pretty straight forward recipe but it uses a lot of ingredients, so be warned. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 30ml melted butter
  • 125g onions, finely chopped
  • 125g carrots, finely chopped
  • 125g celery, finely chopped
  • 55g leeks, thinly sliced
  • 300g fennel, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500g prawns
  • 500g mussels in their shell
  • 250g calamari tentacles
  • 30g tomato paste
  • 15ml brandy
  • 80ml dry white wine
  • 750ml fish stock
  • 350ml hot water
  • 30g plain flour
  • 250ml cream
  • 5ml lemon juice
  • 10ml Smoked paprika
  • Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper

Method:

  1. Clean the prawns and removed the shells and heads and set them aside.
  2. Cook the prawns and calamari on a high heat in a pan until the calamari is crispy and the prawns are done. Set them aside. (NB. do not cook the mussels yet)
  3. Heat the butter in a relatively large pot on a medium heat. Add the onions and cover the lid to allow the onions to soften for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the vegetables and garlic and cover for another 5 minutes, stir the pot occasionally.
  5. Add the prawn shells stir them into the vegetables. Allow them to cook for 10 minutes.
  6. No add the tomato paste and keep stirring until everything becomes a rich brown colour.
  7. Add the brandy and wine let the pot simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
  8. Strain through a sieve into another pot. Discard the veggies and prawn shells.
  9. Whisk the flour into the cold water until lump free, increase the heat and now add the stock and water to the pot. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the soup thickens. Make sure it is lump free by stirring constantly.
  10. Add the mussels to the pot and once they’ve opened (or changed colour if they’re half shell mussels) add the cream and rest of the seafood.
  11. Season with the spices, lemon juice and salt. Taste and season some more if necessary.

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