Soups were revered by ancient Peruvians, who cooked several kinds of them. Of these, one of the most popular and tasty were-and still are- chupes: thick soups, with potatoes and legumes. Rokros, mostly made with vegetables, were very thick, and it is believed that the famous locro is a derivation of this type of soups. On the other hand, lawas were lighter vegetables soups.
Among a huge selection of Peruvian soups there is one that stands out as a real culinary masterpiece: Arequipa’s shrimp chupe, or chupe de camarones, in Spanish. This is a hearty, extremely satisfying, empowering, and some even say aphrodisiac dish; a volcano of flavor, color, and texture. It is usually served in large bowls, and although Peruvians have insatiable appetites, I would recommend to have it as the only course of the meal, because I don´t think you´ll need more food for many hours after this. Maybe not even till the next day.
In Peru we use every part of the fresh shrimp to improve the flavor of the dish. The shells and heads are the best ingredients for a flavorful stock, which is the base for this chupe, and they also make wonderful sauces with an intense taste and color. Shrimps have two sacks inside the head. You should discard the black one, and keep the other one –the grayish or green roe- because it is a hidden treasure of flavor. If you keep just the roe, you should know that a spoonful of this is enough to transform any dish from good to absolutely extraordinary.
To make your own stock with the heads and peels of the shrimp, fry them in 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring, and after 5 minutes add ½ cup white wine, and bring to a boil. Add water to barely cover the peels and bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until you have a rich stock. Process everything in the blender until liquid, strain pressing the solids and reserve to use as the liquid for the soup. If you don´t have the time for this process, or can´t find whole shrimp with heads included, use the best comercial shrimp or fish stock available in the market, but the results won´t be the same.
Follow the instructions of the recipe carefully and get ready for one of the most amazing soups you’ll ever taste. Serve it in deep porcelain soup bowls or in earthenware bowls. Rustic or fancy, shrimp chupe is delicious. Plan on taking time for a nap after lunch, because other than making you content, this will surely make you sleepy too.
You can find this and many other recipes in The Everything Peruvian Cookbook, the most complete introduction to Peruvian cooking.
- ½ cup achiote oil
- 1 onion, chopped (I used 2 tablespoons roasted and pureed onion)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped (I used 1 tablespoon roasted and pureed garlic)
- 1 tablespoon ají panca paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 6 cups shrimp or fish stock
- ½ cup white rice
- 1 pound medium yellow potatoes, peeled (about 6)
- 2 corn ears, cut in thick slices
- 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and cleaned
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 cup queso fresco, diced
- 1 ½ cups evaporated milk
- Salt and pepper
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 6 eggs
- Parsley sprigs to garnish
- Heat the achiote oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano, and sauté until golden. Add tomato paste and continue cooking for 5 minutes, then add the shrimp stock, and bring to a boil, skimming the stock every few minutes. Turn the heat to medium low, add rice and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add potatoes and corn, and continue simmering until the potatoes are tender, then add the peeled shrimp. Cook for 3 minutes. Add milk, salt, and pepper, and turn off the heat. Add cheese and green peas.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the eggs, one by one, sunny side up.
- In each plate put some shrimp with rice, one or two potatoes, chese cubes, green peas, and the hot soup around this. Top with a fried egg and garnish with parsley and 2 large shrimps. Serve immediately.