King prawn bisque

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1hr20min


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About this recipe: This classic seafood soup is ideal for a special first course. A last-minute addition of chopped red pepper brings a delightful flourish of flavour, texture and extra vitamins instead of the fat in the traditional swirl of cream.

Azmina Govindji

Ingredients
Serves: 6 

  • 450 g (1 lb) raw king prawns, without heads
  • 4 tbsp dry white wine
  • 4 slices of lemon
  • 4 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 2 sprigs of parsley, stalks bruised
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 15 g (½ oz) butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 45 g (1½ oz) fine white breadcrumbs, made from day-old slices of bread
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped leaves from the fennel bulb, or herb fennel, to garnish

Method
Prep:45min  ›  Cook:35min  ›  Ready in:1hr20min 

  1. Peel the prawns and set aside. Place the shells in a large saucepan. Pour in 1.2 litres (2 pints) cold water and add the white wine, lemon slices, peppercorns and parsley. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface during cooking.
  2. Use a small sharp knife to make a shallow slit along the curved back of each prawn. With the tip of the knife remove the black vein and discard it. Cover and chill the prawns until required.
  3. Allow the prawn-shell stock to cool slightly, then pick out and discard the lemon slices. Line a sieve with muslin and place it over a large bowl or measuring jug. Process the stock in a blender or food processor until the shells are finely ground, then strain through the muslin-lined sieve. Discard the residue from the shells.
  4. Coarsely chop 85 g (3 oz) of the fennel, and finely chop the remainder of the bulb. Place the finely chopped fennel in a bowl, add the lemon juice and toss well, then cover closely with cling film and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter with the oil in the rinsed-out saucepan. Add the coarsely chopped fennel and the shallot. Cook, stirring frequently, over a moderate heat for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Stir in the breadcrumbs, paprika and stock. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat so that the soup simmers. Add the prawns and continue simmering for 3 minutes.
  6. Use tongs or a draining spoon to remove 6 prawns for garnishing the soup. Set them aside. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  7. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the pan and add the finely chopped fennel and the red pepper. Reheat the soup until piping hot. Serve garnished with the reserved prawns and chopped fennel leaves.

Some more ideas

To add extra fibre, sprinkle the soup with garlic-flavoured rye bread croutons just before serving. Cut 55 g (2 oz) light rye bread into 1 cm (½ in) cubes and toss these with 1 tbsp garlic-flavoured olive oil. Transfer to a baking tray and bake at 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4) for 10 minutes or until crisp. * To serve the soup as a filling main course, make the stock with 1.3 litres (2¼ pints) water and add 250 g (8½ oz) frozen sweetcorn with the red pepper and fennel. Serve with a simple side salad of mixed leaves, cucumber and green pepper, and plenty of crusty bread * A variety of other vegetables can be added with or instead of the red pepper. For example, try a mixture of small broccoli florets, finely chopped celery and frozen peas.

Plus points

Prawns are a good source of low-fat protein. They are an excellent source of vitamin B12, selenium and phosphorus. * Making the stock with the prawn shells gives the bisque a full flavour, and at the same time boosts its calcium content.

Each serving provides

Excellent source of phosphorus, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C. Good source of copper, iron, zinc. Useful source of calcium, folate, potassium, vitamin B2.

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