Smokey Shrimp and Chorizo Stew

December 14, 2009


Appetizers, Dinner, Fall, Fish, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Seasons, Side Dishes, Soup, Winter

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It’s not really fair for me to have to write about shrimp and chorizo stew right now. I’ve just bent backwards, twisted my innards in a hundred directions, fallen forward, lifted halfway and generally wrung out my body and all of its angles. And why does all of this movement make a soup so unfair? Because every time I do yoga—which is often—I come away hungry for vegetarian fare. And mostly, I heed the impulse.

But there is a problem with strict meatlessness when you live with a carnivore. And an even greater problem when you live with a carnivore in Texas and all of his friends are also carnivores. And the problem intensifies when you like his friends…and people, generally. Because not a lot of great dinner parties I’ve been to have featured a meatless dish.


Michael Pollen first put my dilemma (as it were) into focus: civilization was built around the fire. Roasting meat, not unlike the way it’s done at dinner parties, is the key to coming together. This is especially true of dinner parties in Texas. No one would come over to my house if I offered them quinoia pilaf. Except, maybe, my yoga teacher. So, I succumb. Not because my body wants to fill itself with flesh, but because my soul wants to be connected. More often than not, ‘breaking bread’ comes with a side of some communal butchered thing. And people are more important to me than anything–even a few hapless shrimp and the occasional pig.

So, the time is nigh for writing about this shrimp and sausage  soup. I’ve been doing a lot of twisting and bending lately, and if I don’t get this on the page soon, you will be even less likely to make it. Which would be a shame because it is delicious—and if you can find some well-treated pigs and happy, pink shrimp, all the better.


This meal is ideal for an omnivorous winter party—it just sings with flavor and spice. It is silky with occasional bursts of meaty chewiness. Delicious. And even though I’m not generally enticed by meat, there is something about pork in soup that really gets my belly rumbling. There’s no doubt that the best pots I’ve made have begun with a slab of pork salt, pancetta, bacon or, in this case, sausage.

This is the kind of meal I imagine would bring, not just individual nomads, but entire tribes of nomads, together. That is, if they had access to boar that wandered close to the Spanish coast. Its broth has just the right texture, consistency and richness to leave you feeling like you could roll away from the fire and fall asleep. Which is pretty close to what my group did the night we ate this. I dare say, vegetarians ought to make an exception for this dish. Dark winter days call for a bit of fleshy spice. And as they lift their bowls, they should say what I said to myself, “To civilization! Here, here.”

Spicy Shrimp and Chorizo Stew

Adapted from Food + Wine

Serves 6 as a main course

2 lbs medium shrimp, shelled and deveined—save shells
2 quarts chicken broth
8 oz Andouille sausage, chopped and removed from casing
1 large, sweet onion diced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water
S & P
Parsley, for garnish

Simmer shrimp shells in chicken broth about 10 minutes. Strain the broth and discard the shells.

In a large soup pot, cook the sausage over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a separate plate.

Put the onion, carrot, garlic and paprika to the pot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Return the sausage to the pot, add the shrimp broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for 25 minutes. (If you are doing this soup in advance—which I did—pause here and let the soup stand until you are almost ready to serve. Before following the next step, bring soup to a warm temperature.)

Stir the flour mixture, whisk it into the soup and boil for 2 minutes.

Season soup with salt and pepper.

Add the shrimp to the soup and cook just until pink and curled, about 2 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with parsley.

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