As cooler weather begins sidling around the dark nooks of the evening hours and reminds you to snuggle rather than stretch out, you cannot ignore the lure and seduction of hot soup. This soup radiates not just temperature, but has an additional, internal furnace-glow from red Thai curry paste. This soup is kaleidoscopic: soothing, warming, and exciting all in one thrilling, pale, sunny, orange sip.

One of the most magical aspects of Asian cuisines is the juxtaposition of assertive ingredients: hot-spicy-acid-sweet-sour-salty. Asian food daringly folds in all the disparate elements of flavor and texture and makes them family without the easeful luxury and European leitmotif of dairy.

Introducing dairy to the Asian concept of soup is provocative and potentially disastrous. What sort of cunning dream is it, to partner hot soup with frozen cream and eggs! But I challenge you not to be mesmerized by the sorcery in this partnership.

The dreamscape is the tongue-teasing Thai shrimp bisque with the waltzing sweet pea-cilantro ice cream. Think Ginger Rogers’s spicy twirls and Fred Astaire’s smooth slide!


Red Thai Shrimp Bisque with Sweet Pea–Cilantro Ice Cream

 Shrimp Bisque

Yield:  Six portions

Equipment: Medium saucepan, small saucepan, measuring cups and spoons, small colander or strainer, blender, medium bowl, thin wire whisk, medium bowl with drum sieve, rubber spatula, ice cream maker, wooden spoon, small ice cream scoop


Ingredients for the bisque

1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil

1 ½ C minced onion

1 ½  tablespoons minced garlic

3 chopped cherry tomatoes

1 ½-inch piece of fresh ginger

2 stems lemongrass, 6 inches long, smashed

2 kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped

¾ pound shrimp, shelled, de-veined, and chopped

Reserved shrimp shells, sautéed

¾ C cooked rice

2 ¼ teaspoons Red Thai curry paste

1 quart shrimp, fish, or chicken stock

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Ingredients for the cilantro ice cream

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 grind white pepper

1 C scalded cream

10 tablespoons defrosted frozen peas

1 2/3 C roughly chopped, densely packed cilantro with stems (will shrink when blanched)

2 ½ teaspoons light corn syrup



For the soup, heat a medium saucepan, add the vegetable oil and onions. Sauté until translucent—about five minutes. Add garlic and cook another two minutes. Add tomatoes, ginger, bruised lemongrass, lime leaves. Add shrimp and roasted shrimp shells, stirring to cook vegetables. Add rice, curry paste, and stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Slowly bring to the boil and simmer for 35 minutes, covered lightly.

Strain, pushing through large-holed strainer, to extrude soft matter. Re-season as necessary. Chill if not using immediately.

For the cilantro ice cream, blanch the cilantro in boiling water. Strain and immediately transfer to ice bath. Purée in blender with an ice cube. Reserve in blender.

Whisk the yolks till pale. Add sugar, salt, and white pepper. Whisk again till combined. Drizzle in scalded cream. Transfer to small saucepan and heat over very low flame, stirring with wooden spoon until it begins to thicken. Add peas.

Pour into blender with cilantro and purée. Add corn syrup.

Pass through fine mesh drum sieve, scraping with plastic dough scraper or rubber spatula.

Ideally, let sit overnight in refrigerator, or until well chilled.

Churn in ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.

While the ice cream is churning, place a container in the freezer. When the ice cream is churned, place in chilled container. Freeze.

To serve, reheat soup gently over medium flame. Do not let it boil. Pour into warmed bowls or cups. Scoop a dollop of ice cream onto the soup. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.




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