1 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
2 1/2-3 cups seafood stock
3 Tbs olive oil
3-4 cloves of chopped garlic
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
1/4 cup Cognac
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 Tbs chopped chives, for garnish
Kosher salt. to taste
fresh black pepper, to taste
Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add enough water to make 4 cups and reduce it to about 3 cups.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the leeks over medium-low heat until the leeks are soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the cayenne & shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and sherry and cook for 3-4 minutes so the alcohol cooks off. At this point you can separate about a quarter of the cooked shrimp for the finished product (optional) and transfer the rest of the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.
In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, constantly stirring with a whisk. Add the half-and-half and simmer, and whisk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and simmer gently until gets hot and thickens a bit. Season, to taste, and serve hot in bowls topped with 3-4 of the reserved shrimp, and garnish with chives. Bon Appetit!