Shrimp and Corn Bisque

by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot

I know it’s not fall yet, but the evening has been coming on noticeably cooler. Summer is ending and I have found myself pining for the comforts of cold weather; sweaters, slippers, and soup.

Though I love it, I have been getting tired of corn on the cob. For some reason, I have a very hard time eating corn any other way in the summer. It is one of the few deliciously messy foods – much like mangoes and fried chicken – that we are encouraged to gnaw right off it’s respective cob, pit, or bone. But as the seasons have begun to shift, I have remembered ways to cook and eat that were forgotten in the heat of summer. Soup is one of those ways.

This particular soup, adapted from a recipe in 400 Best-Ever Soups, is the perfect blend of filling and fresh. Despite having a creamy base, it manages to be light, yet satisfying enough to serve on its own as a meal.



2 tsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 tbsp butter

1/4 cup flour

3 cups fish stock

1 cup milk

4 oz peeled, cooked shrimp*

1 1/2 cup corn

1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

hot pepper sauce, powder or diced fresh hot pepper to taste

1/2 cup light cream



In a large pan or soup pot, heat oil, add onion and cook until soft.

In a separate, smaller pan, melt your butter over low heat. Add flour to melted butter (I use a flour sifter to avoid clumping) and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add milk an fish stock slowly while continuing to stir. Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and continue to cook for 5-8 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently to avoid scorching your milk.

Chop your shrimp into a few pieces each. Add shrimp, corn and thyme to onions and cook for 2-3 minutes if shrimp is precooked, or, if using fresh shrimp, until it turns pink and begins to firm up. Remove from heat.

Add liquid base to shrimp and veggies. Stir.

Blend half to all of the soup, depending on how thick you like your bisque. Return to pan, and add salt and pepper to taste. (I like to use cayenne, but you could easily use one of the small hot peppers from the Coop. If using fresh diced pepper, add it in earlier to saute with the corn and shrimp.) Add cream and, stirring frequently, bring to almost a boil.

Serve hot and enjoy.


* Although the original recipe calls for cooked shrimp, I always use fresh or defrosted, uncooked shrimp.

Winter Vegetable Chowder

Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

My brother-in-law, Mark Ducey, has a talent for taking healthy recipes and turning them into something decidedly less so, but substantially more delicious. Here is his riff on Deborah Madison’s Winter Vegetable Chowder. To make it vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

1) Place in a saucepan:

  • 3 cups milk or half & half
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 12 black peppercorns

Bring to a boil then set aside to steep.

2) Wash, peel (as needed) and slice into ½-inch by 1 1/2 inch chunks:

  • 4 large leeks
  • 3 cups carrots
  • 3 cups potatoes
  • 3 cups parsnips
  • 6 ribs celery

3) Heat ½ stick of butter in a large soup pot. Add veggies from step two, plus 2 bay leaves, 1 ½ tsp. thyme, ½ tsp. lavender, ½ tsp. tarragon. Heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Sprinkle the veggies with ¼ cup flour, toss, then add 4 cups chicken stock and 4 cups water. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes.

5) While veggies cook, melt some butter on a cast-iron griddle and grill slices of crusty bread on both sides. Place one slice in the bottom of each serving bowl and cover with grated gruyere.

6) When veggies are tender, strain milk from step 1 into a blender. Add 1 1/2 cups of veggies from the soup and puree. Return puree to pot.

7) Check soup and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Ladle over bread in bowls and serve.

Notes: Fresh herbs (quantity adjusted) would be better if available. I used whole milk; half and half would be better and whipping cream would be ideal.  Should have garnished with fresh thyme sprigs if they were not under the snow.