Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Caldo Des Camarones (Shrimp Soup)

Shrimp have always symbolized good times to me, due to their cost, so it made perfect sense to include a shrimp dish in my holiday menu. I served this soup as an appetizer at every holiday meal for fifteen years, after my two daughters and I returned to Ohio from Florida in 1992.

The original version of this recipe used canned salad shrimp, because I got it on sale at the Big Lots store that used to be on Lincoln Way East between Canton and Massillon. This recipe uses fresh, shell-on shrimp instead, because it makes richer-tasting broth.

2 pounds fresh, shell-on shrimp
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Wok or 12-inch saute pan
6 quarts frozen chicken stock (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8-quart stockpot
1 cup red and green bell pepper strips
1 tablespoon chicken soup base
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Zest from one whole lemon
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced red onion
6 diced Roma tomatoes
1/2 pound diced carrots
12 ounces tomato paste 
Bread bowls
2 pounds cooked tricolor pasta (any shape)
Fresh chives

Defrost 6 quarts of chicken stock in an 8-quart stockpot. While the broth defrosts, preheat a wok for two minutes on medium-high before adding the olive oil. Allow the oil to heat for one additional minute.

Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and place them in a colander to drain. Pat each shrimp dry.

Place 1/2 pound of shrimp at a time in a single layer in the wok. If you do not have a wok, you can use a 12-inch saute pan instead. Stir-fry the shrimp until the flesh turns opaque and the shell changes from blue to a red or reddish-brown color.

Peel the shrimp and place them in a covered container in the refrigerator until later. Add the shells to the defrosted broth and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Bring the soup back to a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.

Pour the broth through a colander to remove the shrimp shells and return the broth to the stockpot. Add the pepper strips, spices, celery, onion, Roma tomatoes and carrots. Stir the tomato paste into the mixture to ensure that it does not stay clumped. Bring the soup back to a rolling boil for 15 minutes.

Add the peeled shrimp. Serve the soup right away. You can serve caldo des camarones in bread bowls or ladle it over cooked tricolor pasta. Garnish with fresh chives and croutons. Serves 12 to 16.  

***Chicken Stock*** 
2 pounds cut-up chicken
8 quarts water
2 tablespoons chicken soup base
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
3 ribs diced celery
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup Italian salad dressing
3 large eggs
2 cups bread crumbs

Boil 2 pounds of cut up chicken in 8 quarts of water. Add 2 tablespoons of chicken soup base or 4 bouillon cubes. Add 1 tablespoon garam masala and stir the broth. Add 1/2 cup diced yellow onion, 3 ribs of diced celery and 1 cup of diced tomato. Boil all the ingredients together for 1 hour.

Remove the chicken from the pot. Strain the broth into 1 quart containers and freeze it. Set the chicken aside in a 9- by 13-inch rectangular baking pan or glass baking dish. Marinate the chicken overnight in 1 cup of Italian salad dressing. Beat 3 eggs to a froth in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Dip the chicken pieces in egg. Shake the chicken in a bag of bread crumbs before you fry it on top of stove or bake it in your oven. Serve the chicken with twice-baked potatoes and garden salad.