16 head-on jumbo shrimp
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1/4 medium onion, sliced
1/2 pound fregola (see Tips, below)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Thinly sliced fresh parsley and basil for garnish
Peel shrimp, reserving heads and shells. Devein shrimp. Put shrimp heads and
shells in large pot. Add celery, carrot, tomato, onion, and 4 1D2 cups water.
Set over high heat, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and bring
to boil. Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer 40 minutes, skimming occasionally.
Strain broth into 4-cup measuring
cup, pressing on solids to extract flavorful liquid. Add water if necessary to
make 4 cups liquid. Return broth to pan, add fregola, and set over high heat.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Add shrimp and
simmer additional 5 minutes.
Divide among 4 soup bowls. Drizzle 1
tablespoon olive oil over each bowl, and sprinkle with parsley and basil.
Preparation Notes: Fregola, a common
Sardinian semolina pasta, consists of tiny balls that are flavored with saffron
and resemble Israeli couscous. Simmered in broth or water, this versatile
ingredient appears in soups, stews, and sides.
To prepare fresh fregola, first
preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Place 1 pound couscous (not the precooked
variety) on a large serving platter and spread it all over. Mix 1 cup cold water
with 1 extra-large egg, a pinch of salt and a large pinch ground saffron,
preferably Sardinian (optional). Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the
couscous. Start rubbing the grains between the palms of your hands so the water
is absorbed uniformly. Transfer the couscous to a jelly-roll pan and bake for 15
minutes. Remove from the oven and let the couscous rest until cool, about 1
hour. Add 2 more tablespoons of the water mixture and repeat the same technique,
adding more liquid and rubbing the grain again. Some tiny balls begin to form.
Return to the oven for 15 minutes more, remove, let cool and with 2 more
tablespoons of the liquid each time, repeat the procedure until all the liquid
is used up. At that moment you have formed the fregola by attaching grains of
couscous together in small balls. If you want to separate the larger ones — to
be used boiled with a sauce — from the smaller ones used for broth, place all
the fregola in a sifter and gently shake it; the small ones will pass through
and the larger ones will remain in the sifter.
Makes 4 servings.