A shrimp stock fortified with the floral and smoky notes of dark Jamaican rum does much of the heavy lifting in elevating a simple fall bisque into something memorable and unexpected. Traditional aromatics—carrots, celery, and onions—are sweated with a deseeded Habanero pepper, which adds brilliant brightness. Thyme is the only herb employed, and its deep earthy-woodsy flavor rounds out some of the assertiveness of the Habanero. The creaminess of this bisque comes from full-fat coconut milk, which gently leans into the sweetness of the butternut squash. Finished with a splash more of dark rum, the ingredients—even those used in small quantities, like the lime zest—naturally cohere and confidently connect warm, autumnal notes with bright, upbeat Caribbean-inspired flavors. —Brigid Ransome Washington
4 to 6
fresh, shell-on shrimp, shells and meat separated
dark Jamaican rum, such as Myers
Vidalia onion, quartered
Zest of 2 limes
Old Bay Seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
roughly chopped celery
roughly chopped Vidalia onions
roughly chopped carrots
large garlic cloves, roughly chopped; plus 1 clove, finely minced
Make the stock: In an ample stockpot over medium heat, add butter and shrimp shells. Toast the shells for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add water, thyme sprigs, rum, and the quartered onion. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and set aside the stock.
While the stock is simmering, marinate the shrimp in the lime zest, Old Bay, salt, and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the bisque.
Make the bisque: In a heavy-duty stockpot over medium heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Sauté celery, onions, and carrots for 5 minutes, then add garlic, Habanero, thyme leaves, and butternut squash. Season with salt, pepper, and Old Bay and allow the vegetables to cook for approximately 20 minutes.
Next, add all of the prepared shrimp stock. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, pulverize until the bisque is smooth without any lumps. Add coconut milk and the final splash of dark rum. Reduce heat to low and bring to a simmer.
Cook the shrimp: In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the 2 teaspoons butter and the one clove of minced garlic. Sauté the shrimp for roughly 3 minutes. (They should be pink with a distinctiveness crisp when bitten into.)
To serve, place the shrimp in bowls and ladle the bisque over. Eat immediately.