Here is the answer to the age-old question: what do I do with the rest of that pumpkin puree that I didn’t use for the Madeleines? It’s the perfect savory pumpkin soup. The stock for the soup is enriched with shellfish flavor by incorporating the shrimp shells; toasting and then simmering them with aromatics, fresh sage, and a little saffron makes for a delicious and complex flavor base. The pumpkin puree is mixed into the broth, with a little cream for richness. The soup is then poured over lightly sauteed shrimp, and garnished with more fresh sage. It’s perfect for the season: colorful, satisfying, and pretty enough to serve to your most discerning guests.
Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque
(makes 6 to 8 servings)
1 pound large shrimp, shells on**
For the shrimp stock:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, or best quality, low sodium store-bought)
A large pinch saffron threads
2 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion (about 8 ounces), coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
3 3-inch sprigs fresh sage
For the soup:
2 cups pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1/2 cup heavy cream
About 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
Peel and devein the shrimp. Reserve the shrimp shells. Wrap the shrimp and refrigerate. Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over high heat. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring constantly, until they are deep orange and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Take the time to do this step, the roasted shells add a lot of flavor to the stock. Off the heat, and away from the gas flame, add the wine. Return to the heat and boil over a medium flame until the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken stock, saffron, celery, onion, bay leaves, and sage. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pushing hard on the solids to extract all the liquid. Rinse out the pot and pour the stock back into it. Whisk the pumpkin, cream, salt (taste first if using canned stock), and cayenne into the shrimp stock. Return to a simmer and cook gently, over low heat for 10 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning for salt; add pepper to taste.
To finish the soup: Pour the olive oil into a wide saute pan set over medium heat. When hot, add the reserved shrimp and sage and cook, tossing often, until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Arrange the shrimp in warm serving bowls or a soup tureen. Bring the soup back to a simmer and ladle it over the shrimp. Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional fresh chopped sage, if you like.
**I chopped my shrimp into large pieces so that they could be easily eaten with a soup spoon.