Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shrimp and Grits Soup, well sort of...Roasted Corn Soup with Shrimp and Mushroom Fricassee, The Soup Diaries!

Corn Soup, Corn Chowder, Cream of Corn Veloute, Crab and Corn Bisque. These are just some of the the soups and soup like dishes created and cooked in American Kitchens celebrating one of our favorite vegetables, Corn!

Corn is a part of the American diet like no other food I can think if. Not only do we start our mornings with it in the form of cold or hot cereals, but we eat it in almost every kind of manner conceivable. Not to mention the High Fructose Corn Syrup thing!

Yes we Americans love our corn. Especially Southern Americans. We eat cornbread and grits and love it. So today I decided to look at creating a Corn soup. For me creating good soup is a mission. I have shared a few of my soup recipes so far and this one is no slouch either.

This recipe is actually a melding of three of my favorite things. Shrimp, Mushrooms and Corn. Growing up I loved creamed corn right out of the can. I mean know me what's not to like! However, as I got older I discovered that this lowly dish gets a bad rap from foodie's and chefs everywhere. It's plebian and pedestrian. It comes out of a CAN! Ok! Ok! I get it. but the concept of cream and corn is not lost on anyone. So using those two things to create a soup seemed like a no brainer to me.

Now there are about as many corn soup recipes out there as there are chefs and home cooks. So I wanted to step up my game a little. I have had roasted corn frozen right out of the freezer at Trader Joe's and loved it. So i decided to use that instead of regular corn. Well again, there are so many roasted corn soup recipes out there from Bobby Flay to some lady from Iowa with an online cooking video blog. Nothing original there! But what about taking that and making it a little more substantial. What about a meal that is a soup but isn't really just a soup???

In catering we often do soups with a garnish in the bowl which is set in front of the guests and then the soup is poured around it. It's a fancy french serving technique which is very visually impressive. So I was planning a friend's birthday dinner at my house and I wanted to get a little fancy. So I thought, why not do a soup as a first course and make it a little special. However, instead of a crouton or a pretty garnish and also instead of putting the protein element into the soup why not make it the garnish and add the soup pureed and silken to it as the flourish. Then let each diner mix and eat as they see fit. Sort of an elegant start.

So I thought about all the things people pair with corn soup. Crab being one of the most common. But I wanted to accomplish 2 things. Make this soup and use some of the items I had on hand. You know frugal when you gotta be!! So Shrimp I had, Mushrooms I had. So it hit me,I could I thought cook them in such a way that they were almost a main course. Sort of a liquid version of Shrimp and Grits! A hearty element if you will. So that the melange of shrimp and mushrooms would also be my in bowl garnish, as well as main substance element, and the corn soup would almost act as the sauce to tie it all together. But to do that the soup would have to really be silken. So I decided not only to cook the soup, but to puree it and then to make it really silken and to have naught but the elemental creamy essence, strain it! ( how did you like the usage of the food "naught", I bet very few food bloggers use that word!)

But Anyway....I had my plan, and this is what I came up with! Enjoy Ya'll!!

Roasted Corn Soup with Shrimp and Mushroom Fricassee
serves 4 


1 lb bag Roasted Frozen Corn ( I find this at Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 large Shallot diced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half and half
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves ( turkish)
1 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

To make the soup part:

Heat oil in the bottom of a heavy pot
add onion and shallot and cook till translucent
add garlic and bloom in the pan
add all other ingredients except salt and bring to a boil
reduce heat to simmer cover and cook for 40 to 45 mins over low heat on simmer
Then turn off heat and let cool down
Puree the soup in batches in a blender till smooth
Add salt to taste
Strain soup through a mesh sieve pushing it through with the back of a spoon to get all te liquid out but leave behind the solids. Discard the solids.
Hold soup in the fridge if preparing ahead of time.
Then gently reheat when ready to use.

For the Mushrooms:

8 oz of shitake Mushrooms stems removed cut into slices
2 tablespoons of butter
pepper and salt

cook the mushrooms till golden brown and season with the salt and liberally with pepper.
about 6 mins over med high heat. Remove from pan and hold

For the Shrimp:

12 shrimp tail on (large) 3 per person more if you want.
1/3 cup shopped chives
3 tablespoons sherry

Add 3 more tablespoons of butter to pan that you used for the mushrooms
Bring to med high and saute shrimp till pink and just done add liberal dose of black pepper and a sprinkle of salt.

When shrimp are pink add the sherry and cook for a minute till reduced then add Mushrooms and chives turn off heat

To serve:

Place three shrimp in the bottom of each of the 4 serving bowls.
Divide the mushrooms and spoon any sauce over them and the shrimp.
Pour soup around them in equal portions garnish with a dollop of sour cream and more chopped chives.

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