If you have been to San Francisco’s revered restaurant Gary Danko, then you know the ingredients are the epitome of seasonal foods at their peak.  A few years ago, I had the pleasure of enjoying a dinner at Gary Danko with my mom and corn-loving brother, who, at the time, lived down the street from the restaurant in Russian hill.  In order to maximize our tasting menu experience, we all selected different items from the menu.  While my mom and I selected scallop and lobster appetizers, my brother ordered the corn soup.   I have been trying to replicate this ethereal sweet corn experience ever since. 

Just like every good gymnast or figure skater, professional athletes make their sport appear effortless, as if I could rise from my seat and immediately perform that triple axel with ease.  A talented chef is no different.  They make a simple corn soup taste as if they plucked the corn from the field as the sun emerged from its slumber along the horizon.  They cart the corn back to the kitchen where only some form of wizardry could explain the pure corn flavor delivered to our table.  If only it was only that simple…

The flavor of sweet white corn, cream, and salt mesmerized my taste buds, and I didn’t even order this soup for my appetizer.  My love for that soup was secured after a mere two spoonfuls.  I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have attempted to replicate this corn soup.  Countless hours later, I have arrived at this recipe.  No, it is not the soup that I ate that Indian summer evening in San Francisco, but it will do.  

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Corn and Shrimp Bisque


  • Author: Christina
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 quarts 1x

Description

I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have attempted to replicate this corn soup.  Countless hours later, I have arrived at this recipe.  No, it is not the soup that I ate that Indian summer evening at Gary Danko, but it will do.  


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 56 pieces bacon
  • 1/4 cup reserved bacon grease
  • 2 pounds head on shrimp
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 4 cups chopped onion (about 2 large onions)
  • 1 cup leeks, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 6 ears fresh corn or 6 cups frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 cups shrimp stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup potatoes, diced into cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs chives, finely diced
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the bacon: In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat.  Once the bacon is fully cooked, remove the bacon from the pot and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside to cool.  Once completely cooled, cut into whatever size bacon bit you prefer.  Pour the bacon grease into a small bowl.  Reserve ¼ cup of bacon grease to make the bisque.
  2. White the bacon is cooking, steam the shrimp: In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine ½ cup white wine with ½ cup water.  Add the head on shrimp.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Turn the heat off and leave covered for an additional five minutes to steam.  Uncover and allow to cool before removing the heads and peeling.  De-vein the shrimp and set aside.  Reserve the liquid remaining from steaming the shrimp, shrimp heads, and shrimp shells for making the shrimp stock.
  3. Make the soup: Add ¼ cup reserved bacon grease back to the pot along with the butter. Melt over medium heat.  Add the onions and stir to coat in the butter and bacon grease. Add a few pinches salt, to taste.  Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the leeks, celery, and carrots. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and cognac. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the flour and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes to ensure all vegetables are well coated in the flour. Slowly add the milk while stirring well to ensure the flour does not clump and incorporates evenly into the milk.  If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and reserve the cobs. Add the corn.  Cook for five minutes over medium heat.  Add the stock, bay leaves, and potatoes. If using fresh corn, add the cobs (don’t worry these will get removed before the soup is pureed).
  5. Bring bisque to a slow boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Remove the corn cobs and bay leaves. Blend soup with an immersion blender.  Add the cream and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add the chives and season with salt and pepper.
  6. If using pre-peeled shrimp, add the shrimp to the soup and cook for 1-2 minutes. The shrimp will continue to cook even after the soup is taken off the heat.  If using head on shrimp, add the cooked, peeled, and de-veined shrimp to the soup immediately before serving.
  7. Garnish with chopped bacon.

Notes

It is so important to have either fresh corn or to use frozen sweet white corn kernels. 

  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 45

Keywords: seafood, corn, soup, homemade

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