Shrimp Bisque ~ it’s a little bit romantic, a little bit ladies who lunch, and it definitely has a 20th century vibe ~ but I think this richly flavored soup is ready for a comeback!

Shrimp Bisque is a richly flavored soup that deserves a comback! ~

Seafood bisques are definitely of the last century, but that doesn’t mean we should let them languish there.  These elegant soups have so much to offer, from their creamy texture and beautiful pale pink color to their supercharged flavors. And while lobster and crab might be too pricey for everyday, shrimp is easy to come by and plentiful.

A bisque is a creamy French shellfish soup, alot like a chowder, but fancier.

Classic and elegant Shrimp Bisque ~

The bones of a good shrimp bisque are always the same no matter what recipe you go with ~ there’s shrimp, of course, aromatic veggies, stock, cream, tomato paste, brandy, sherry, and a bit of spice.  It’s the little extra touches that distinguish one recipe from another, but you don’t want to stray too far from tradition, because that’s what makes this soup a classic.  Here are a few of the ways famous chefs have put their own special spin on it~

  • Emeril uses lots of fresh herbs to distinguish his bisque.
  • Martha actually roasts and purees the shells right into her shrimp bisque ~ I wasn’t expecting that one, but it turns out this is the most authentic way to do it…leave it to Martha!
  • Tyler freshens his up with orange zest.
  • Paula tops her soup with crunchy homemade croutons.

Shrimp stock for Shrimp Bisque made from scratch using shrimp shells ~

This shrimp bisque owes some of its flavor to a from-scratch stock that’s made using the shrimp shells.  The flavor is delicate and the color is beautiful .  The cognac and sherry add that unmistakable restaurant flair to an already luxurious soup.

TIP: Shrimp bisque is rich, so serve it in smaller bowls, a little goes a long way.

Serving up Shrimp Bisque ~

My friend Sandy makes my beautiful soup bowls, read about her and see her work in my American Artisans post.

*This recipe is lightly adapted from Ina. 

Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp Bisque


  • 1 pound medium or large shrimp, shelled and deveined, reserve the shells
  • 2 leeks
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • baby shrimp or chopped shrimp
  • thyme leaves


  1. First make the stock ~ put 4 cups water in a pot, along with the shrimp shells and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the broth and add water if necessary to make 3 3/4 cups. Set aside.
  2. Slice the leeks and then rinse them thoroughly to remove any grit.
  3. Heat the oil in a soup pot and saute the leeks for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the cayenne and the shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are cooked, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the cognac and cook for a minute, then the sherry, and cook for 3 more minutes.
  6. Puree the mixture, in 2 batches, in a food processor until it is coarsely pureed. Set aside.
  7. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the flour ~ cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Do not let it brown. Add the half and half and cook over medium heat until it is hot and thickened. Stir or whisk constantly.
  8. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and heat over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Season to taste, and serve in small bowls, garnished with fried leeks or chopped shrimp and thyme leaves.


  • If you love seafood soups, there are lots more out there to try…Lobster Bisque is probably the most luxurious, but I have a soft spot for Crawfish Bisque, too.


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Shrimp Bisque ~ it's a little bit romantic, a little bit ladies who lunch, and it definitely has a 20th century vibe ~ but I think this richly flavored soup is ready for a comeback! | French | seafood | chowder | appetizer

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27 Responses to Shrimp Bisque

  1. I haven’t had a good bisque since we moved from New Hampshire. Yours looks and sounds great.

  2. cheri says:

    What a delicious looking bisque, we eat a lot of soup but I’ve never ever made one like this, that’s going to quickly change. Love the bowls too, they are beautiful.

  3. guy23 says:

    Yum. And yes to some kind of crouton-ish accompaniment, either in the bisque or a side salad. Perfect dinner!

  4. Shelly says:

    Is the 1/2 c tomato paste correct?

  5. What a delicious, flavorful bisque! With dry sherry and cognac, I know this is a winner!

  6. Sandy Kreyer says:

    This sounds delicious! Thank you so much for including my bowl!

  7. Mary says:

    I absolutely LOVE those bowls and the bisque sounds fabulous:)

  8. Penny says:

    We are in Florida for 6 weeks and always eat more seafood while here. Just an association of being near water a guess. I know we would love this. The Farmers’ Market had some beautiful royal red shrimp last Saturday. Will give this recipe a try Sue. Thanks so much.

  9. I am in LOVE with your soup bowls!! And this shrimp bisque needs to happen for dinner in my house! Perfect starter for a date night in dinner!

  10. This looks amazing! I love the soup bowls your friend makes too!

  11. I haven’t made a bisque of any description in ages. It’s actually on my list of things to do again. Shrimp bisque might be the best and easiest — good shrimp are everywhere. And frozen ones are of good quality and always in season. Good stuff — thanks.

    • Sue says:

      Yes, you’re right, I hadn’t thought of that, you could use frozen shrimp, but I think the flavor might suffer a little, and how would you make the stock? I thiknk you can freeze shrimp shells when you have them and use them later to make stock, that’s a solution :)

  12. Cliona Keane says:

    I don’t know why bisque isn’t on the menu more often, but having read this I’ll be adding it on soon I’m sure! I love the colour and it looks like it’d taste fantastic…now just to train my other half to love seafood as much as I do!

  13. Yum! I love seafood bisques and have yet to cook any on my own. Your recipe is divine!

  14. I think this would be the perfect starter for a dinner party! Looks amazing!

  15. I am a bisque lover from way back :) So glad to see you resurrecting it here. It looks absolutely delicious!

  16. I would love mine with crunch croutons, please! Beautiful soup bowls, Sue.

  17. Thanks for bringing bisque back into the light! I’ve always heard that shrimp shells add a richness to the broth but I’ve never tried making a stock like this. I love the color, the history and all the variations! Sharing and pinning!

    • Sue says:

      Thanks Tricia, I loved making the broth, it was so much quicker than a chicken broth, it just takes minutes, and the color and flavor really come through :)

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