Shrimp Soup, Puerto Rican style (Asopao de camarones)

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I love shrimp, big time. My go-to recipe is simply to batter and fry them, served with spicy cocktail sauce and salad greens. I’ve been looking to try new recipes and expand my food habits, so with the last batch of shrimp I bought, I made a soup common in both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic: asopao de camarones, shrimp soup. This is a hearty soup that’s tangy and bright with lime and peppers, thickened with rice. We really enjoyed eating this, and it’s one of those dishes I love to make: chop it all up, put it in the pot, and eat!

In his How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman recommends buying frozen shrimp when you can’t find a local supply, the reason being that unless you do find local and just-off-the-boat shrimp, what you’re buying has already been frozen and defrosted. If you’re buying non-local shrimp, you’re better off buying them still-frozen rather than letting the fish monger defrost them for you – you’ll get more flexibility on when you can use them and they’ll taste better if you defrost right before you’re ready to use.

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Plátanos and avocado slices served with garlic sauce

Ingredients (4 people)

1 lb shrimp, cleaned
1 small onion, diced
1 pepper, diced (any kind you wish – I used poblanos because I love them, but traditionally you would use red or green bell peppers)
Garlic, minced or diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste or 1 cup pureed tomatoes (you can also use fresh)
1 cup fish stock or clam juice
1 cup carrots, diced or sliced into rounds
1/2 cup peas
6 – 8 cups of water
1/4 tsp achiote powder or 1/2 tsp achiote paste (optional)
1 cup rice, uncooked (any kind you like, though traditionally it would be a short or medium grain white rice)
1 tbls white vinegar
1 tbls lime juice
Olive oil
Salt to taste

Prep for shrimp soup

Prep for shrimp soup

Making It

  • Saute garlic and onions in olive oil until turning translucent.
  • Add fish stock, cilantro, tomato, achiote, and peppers. Allow to soften.
  • Add carrots and saute 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add uncooked rice and salt, and reduce the heat to medium/low. Since you’re cooking the rice right in the soup, you have to be sure there is enough water as you go. Add another 2 or 3 cups, as necessary. The rice will fluff and absorb much of the stock as it cooks. If you’re using white rice, cooking will take 15 – 20 minutes. You can make this a very thick or a very thin soup – adjust the water/stock level according to your own taste.
  • After the rice is cooked, add peas, lime juice, and vinegar and let cook 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Add shrimp and cook about 5 minutes. Shrimp cook REALLY fast: once they’ve turned white and pink, they’re ready to eat.

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I served the asopao with pickled red onions, sliced avocados, and plátanos maduros (sweet plaintains). To make the plátanos, cut them into slices or chunks and saute quickly in very hot oil. Tostones (double-fried green plaintains) would also go really well with this soup. To go with these sides, I made a garlic mojito (which I then poured over pretty much everything I ate during the rest of the week until it was gone!).

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Garlic Sauce

  • Olive oil, about 1/2 cup
  • 2 – 4 garlic cloves
  • Fresh cilantro, 1 – 2 tbls
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  • Cold water (possibly)

Blend everything together and adjust seasonings to taste. You can make this a thinner sauce if you want by adding a little cold water and blending again.

Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar or lime juice (or a combination)
  • 2 tbls sugar
  • Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 – 2 thinly sliced jalapeños (optional)
  • Generous pinch oregano (the Mexican variety if you can find it, which is milder)

Pour all ingredients over the onions, adding water to cover. Keep in a tightly sealed jar, shaking the ingredients once in a while to marinate. These will be ready to eat within a few hours and will keep in the refrigerator for several days.






This entry was published on March 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm. It’s filed under Puerto Rican food, Seafood, Stews and Soups and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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