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Creamy Garlic-Almond Soup with Smoked Paprika and Shrimp

(recipe, Adam Ried)


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Introduction

As with the Spanish Garlic and Almond Soup with Grapes, either fresh or stale bread is fine here. A small serving of this thick, rich soup makes a nice first course for a special dinner, or with a salad alongside it can be dinner (or lunch) itself.

Ingredients

  1. 1 Tbsp. neutral oil
  2. 1 lb. medium (41 to 50 per pound) shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  3. 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1 celery rib, roughly chopped
  5. 7 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  6. 1 bay leaf
  7. 10 oz. French, Italian, or sturdy country white bread, crust trimmed, torn or cut into roughly 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups/7 ounces lightly packed)
  8. ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  9. 1½ Tbsp. smoked bittersweet paprika
  10. 2 cups skinless blanched whole, slivered, or sliced almonds, toasted; reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish (chopped if whole)
  11. Salt
  12. 3 Tbsp. dry sherry
  13. 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  14. 3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced (about ⅓ cup), for garnish

Steps

  1. Heat the neutral oil until shimmering in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells, onion, celery, and bay leaf, and cook, stirring frequently, until the shells are pink and the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add about half the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds.
  2. Add 9 cups water, bring to boil, adjust the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the stock is fragrant and strongly flavored, about 40 minutes. Strain the stock into a large bowl, pressing the solids to release as much liquid as possible (you should have about 7½ cups); discard the solids. Add the bread to the stock, submerge it, and soak until softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and smoked paprika in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside off heat to infuse the oil, about 15 minutes.
  4. Purée half the soaked bread and its liquid, half the almonds, and half the remaining garlic in a blender (do not fill the jar more than halfway; purée in additional batches if necessary) until very smooth. Remove the center cap from the blender-jar lid and, with the motor running, add half the olive-oil mixture in a slow, steady stream, and purée until the mixture is very smooth and emulsified. Pour into a large saucepan; repeat blending (in 2 batches if necessary) with remaining soaked bread and liquid, almonds, garlic, and olive oil mixture, and add to the first batch.
  5. Add 2½ teaspoons salt, pepper to taste, and the shrimp; set the pan over medium heat, and gently heat the soup, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through and the soup is hot and steamy, about 7 minutes (do not boil). Add the sherry and sherry vinegar and stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, and consistency with a little water (up to ½ cup) if necessary.
  6. Ladle the soup into warm serving bowls, garnish each bowl with some scallions and a few of the reserved toasted almonds, and serve immediately.