Winter Vegetable Velouté with Mastiha-Seared Shrimp

  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 leek, whites and tender greens, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp. finely ground fennel seeds

  • 4 cups vegetable stock

  • ½ pound (250 gr.) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed but kept whole

  • 3 Tbsp. Mastiha liqueur

  • ¼ cup heavy cream

  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

  • Mastiha-scented olive oil for garnish

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped leek, fennel, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to caramelize lightly, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ground fennel, stir, and pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft.

  2. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender at high speed, pulverize all the vegetables in the pot to a smooth purée.

  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium non-stick skillet, add the shrimp and garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until the shrimp turns bright pink and slightly browned around the edges. Pull the skillet away from the heat and pour in the Mastiha liqueur. Steam it off.

  4. Remove the garlic clove from the skillet. Add the shrimp and their pan juices to the soup. Heat. Pour in the cream and continue cooking until warmed through. Stir in the lemon juice. Serve, with a teaspoon of the Mastiha olive oil drizzled over the surface of the soup.