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If you can find head-on shrimp, this is the perfect time to use them. This recipe is from Spring in Marietta, GA, our #7 Best New Restaurant 2017.
- 3 pounds shell-on, tail-on shrimp, divided
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
- 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons Carolina Gold or other long-grain white rice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ small butternut squash, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 2 15-ounce cans navy beans, rinsed
- Chopped chives and lemon wedges (for serving)
Pulse 1½ lb. shrimp (with shells and tails) in a food processor until a paste forms (it should look similar to ground meat).
Melt ¼ cup butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp paste, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Add 2 bay leaves and 3 qt. water. Bring to a simmer and cook 40 minutes. Strain shrimp stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids and wipe out pot.
Tie parsley, thyme, and remaining 2 bay leaves together with kitchen twine; set aside. Melt remaining ¼ cup butter over medium-high heat in same pot. Add carrots, celery, onion, leek, and shallot; season generously with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are golden brown, 10–12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened in color, about 1 minute. Add cognac and cook, stirring, until liquid is evaporated, 2–3 minutes. Add shrimp stock, rice, cayenne, and reserved herb bundle. Bring to a simmer and cook until rice is tender, 20–25 minutes. Add cream and cook 5 minutes longer. Pluck out and discard herb bundle.
Working in 2 batches, purée soup and vegetables in a blender until smooth and creamy. Return to pot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add squash and cook just until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and devein remaining 1½ lb. shrimp. Add shrimp and beans to pot. Bring to a simmer just to warm through, then remove from heat and season with salt. Let bisque sit 5 minutes to let shrimp cook through.
Divide bisque among bowls. Top with chives and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.