Serves 6 to 8.
For shrimp stock:
peel and heads of shrimp
6 cups water
1 lemon, cut in quarters
shrimp or crab boil (I like Zatarain's in the mesh bag. If you don't have any - throw in a dash of cayenne pepper, some paprika, and bay leaves.)
Make the shrimp stock:
- Buy shrimp heads-on. If you do this, buy more (in weight) than the recipe requires. Wash shrimp; remove heads and shells and put them in a soup pot. Devein shrimp and refrigerate for later.
- Add 8 cups of water to the pot, lemon quarters, and shrimp or crab boil seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer (uncovered) for about 45 minutes. Strain well.
- Strain well and put 4 cups of the stock back into the soup pot with tomatoes. Simmer for 30-40 minutes on very low heat. Reserve other 4 cups for later.
- In a cast iron or heavy bottom skillet over medium heat, sauté onions and celery in butter and a tablespoon of olive oil until onions are soft (4 -5 minutes). Add garlic, stir and cook 2 minutes more.
- Stir in tomato puree and cook a few minutes more, but don't let it burn or stick! Keep stirring!
- Stir in brandy; cook for a minute more. Stir in shrimp, uncooked rice, and rest of shrimp stock. Cook on low heat (uncovered) until rice is cooked - about 20 - 30 minutes.
- I have one of those hand-held stick blenders and I use it for the next step, but you could use your blender and do this in batches.
- REMOVE the pot from the stove and use stick-blender to blend the soup. (If you don't remove it from the heat, it will bubbly up and burn the heck out of you!)
- If you are using a blender to do this, do it in batches. If you pour too much in the blender, it will gush out the top and also burn the heck out of you!
- After you've blended, season to taste. Return to simmer over very low heat for about 10 minutes, then strain again and serve.