Creamy Shrimp Bisque

Classic and elegant Shrimp Bisque ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

Creamy 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! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

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 ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

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 ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

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 ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

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

Category: soup, appetizer

Yield: serves 4-6

Shrimp Bisque

Ingredients

  • 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
    garnish
  • baby shrimp or chopped shrimp
  • thyme leaves

Instructions

  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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Don’t forget to pin it!

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Leave a Reply

49 Comments

  • Reply
    Jackie somerville
    August 21, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Can I make night before

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 21, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Yes, sure, it will be even better. But be sure to reheat very gently.

  • Reply
    Gena norton
    May 17, 2018 at 8:15 am

    My husband and I catch our own shrimp in a cast net in grand Isle Louisiana. Just caught some this morning and I’m excited to try this recipe. I will let you know how it turns out.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 17, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Wow, that sounds heavenly!

  • Reply
    paul
    February 23, 2018 at 12:08 am

    forgive me if the question appears weird but i haven’t got a clue as to what a ” half and half ” is .
    could you please enlighten me ?
    it figures in the ingredeients as “2 cups of half and half”
    and in the recipe in note 7

    many thanks in advance

    • Reply
      Dale Harding
      March 2, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Half and half is a 50% cream 50% milk mix sold in the dairy section of most grocery stores.

      • Reply
        Sue
        March 2, 2018 at 6:00 pm

        Thanks Dale! And Paul, you can substitute whole milk, or a combination of milk and cream, too.

  • Reply
    Jeannie
    December 28, 2017 at 7:56 am

    How many servings does this recipe make?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 2, 2018 at 5:56 pm

      This serves about 6, Jeannie.

  • Reply
    Jill Roberts @ WellnessGeeky
    December 21, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Legit speechless, this shrimp bisque recipe looks unreal! These are so Instagrammable and adorable! Definitely I will prep it on the weekend for my family. Thx Sue!

  • Reply
    Nancyo
    December 1, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Delish! Followed the basic instructions but used leftovers from the shrimp boil the night before. ( potatoes and corn).
    So glad I had shrimp stock in the freezer and didn’t have cognac so used straight sherry and still received rave reviews. Thanks Sue, can’t wait to make this again!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 1, 2017 at 9:01 am

      yay, sounds like a delicious couple of night’s eating in your house Nancy!

  • Reply
    Janette
    June 19, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Love, love, love any kind of bisque! and you’re right, it’s nice to use something a little cheaper then lobster every once in a while! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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