A quick broth made with browned shrimp shells gives you just about all the flavor you need for this shrimp stew. Unlike its beef or lamb counterparts, which are thick and chunky with potatoes and other vegetables, a seafood stew is thin and rigorous in its simplicity.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, shells reserved, and deveined
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 16 ounces clam juice
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 1/2 cups) and washed well
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about 3 1/3 cups), fronds reserved for garnish
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, finely ground
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 lemon
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Add thyme sprigs and cook 1 minute. Add wine, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add clam juice and water and simmer 15 minutes. Pour broth through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids; discard solids.
Melt butter in pot over medium-high heat and add leeks, fennel, and fennel seeds. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until vegetables just start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add shrimp broth and cream; cook until warmed through.
Stir in shrimp and cook until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Divide stew among 6 shallow bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.