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This is a classic soup that is wonderfully flavoured by the very essance of the shellfish and while the process is quite lengthy, the finished result is fabulous.
- 1kg whole langoustines (or other crustacean such as prawns or lobster)
- 190g onion (1½)
- 100g carrot (2)
- 125g celery (2 sticks)
- 140g leek (2 small)
- 75g tomato (1)
- 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
- 1 star anise
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 200ml armagnac or other brandy
- 500ml fish stock
- 1.5 litres of water
- 1 pinch of saffron
- 200ml double cream
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
- Fill a large sauce pan with water to three quarters full, put it on the heat and bring it to the boil. Place a large bowl in the sink and fill it to the brim with cold water.
- Put a handful of the langoustines into the boiling water for 30 seconds before lifting them out and plunging them into the cold water and running the cold tap over them for about 30 seconds to cool them. Then remove them from the bowl and put them onto a clean tea towel to dry a little.
- Repeat this process of boiling and cooling untill all of the langoustines are done. Then remove the meat from the tail of the langoustine and set it aside, keeping the shells.
- Put the shells onto the tea towel, wrap them up and bash them with a mallet or rolling pin to break up the shells.
- Peel the onion and carrot and dice it with the celery, tomato and leek into thumbnail sized pieces.
- In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium heat and then add the onion, carrot celery and leek and cook them until they are beginning to turn brown (about 10 minutes).
- Then add the tomato, parsley, star anise, bay leaf and tomato purée, stir them in and cook it until the tomatoes have turned mushy (about 7 minutes).
- Add the langoustine shells and cook them for 2 minutes to allow the pot to get back up to temperature, then add the armagnac and cook it for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the stock and water, stir it in and bring it up to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer it for 1 hour.
- Remove the star anise and ladle some of the contents of the pan into a liquidizer, until the liquidizer is ¼ full. Then blend it thoroughly for about 2 minutes. (Filling a liquidizer with too much hot liquid can cause the liquid to explode out of the top in a spectacular fashion, regardless of the strength of your liquidizers lid. It is best to err on the side of caution and do several small batches, rather than cover yourself and your kitchen with boiling hot soup.)
- Pour the contents of the liquidizer through a very fine sieve (ideally a chinoise) into another large, clean pot, pushing the liquid through with the back of a ladle (leaving the solids), then refill the liquidizer to ¼.
- Continue until all of the soup has been blended and pushed through the sieve.
- Add the langoustine tail meat to the soup, bring the soup to a simmer and cook it for 2 minutes. Then blend the soup again (after washing out the liquidizer) until it is smooth. Pour this into yet another clean pan, reheat the soup, add the cream and season it with salt & pepper.
- Serve. We drizzled it with a little double cream.
- Do not even think about making this soup unless you have a very fine sieve (such as a chinoise) and a heavy duty liquidizer or food processor that can crush ice. This is because the shells make up the body of the soup and despite needing to be blended very finely, some larger particles will remain. Unless these particles are removed, they will make the soup feel like eating sand.
- If you are using a food processor instead of a liquidizer, it is advisable to "pulse" the blending (i.e. stopping the machine every 2-3 seconds).