Creamy Shrimp Bisque

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Classic and elegant Shrimp Bisque ~

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! ~

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.

Reader Rave ~

“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!”  ~Nancy

*This recipe is lightly adapted from Ina. 

Classic and elegant Shrimp Bisque ~
Add to Your Recipe Box
3.03 from 173 votes

Shrimp Bisque

Course Appetizer, Soup


  • 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


  • 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.
  • Slice the leeks and then rinse them thoroughly to remove any grit.
  • 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.
  • Add the cayenne and the shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are cooked, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the cognac and cook for a minute, then the sherry, and cook for 3 more minutes.
  • Puree the mixture, in 2 batches, in a food processor until it is coarsely pureed. Set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Thanks for pinning my creamy shrimp bisque!

Creamy Shrimp Bisque pin.

You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Trisha Sheth
    October 6, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Can I use cooking sherry wine? Also don’t have cognac would I just use the sherry for both amounts? Also can I heavy cream instead of half and half? If so do I use the same amount or reduce the quantity?

    • Reply
      October 6, 2020 at 11:17 am

      If your sherry tastes good, then use it for both. Sometimes cooking wine isn’t quite up to snuff, and I definitely prefer an actual Sherry or other fortified wine.

  • Reply
    Valerie Gray
    September 3, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    5 stars
    This is a delicious bisque!

    • Reply
      October 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm

      Sue what about the heavy cream? I have some in the house instead of half and half. If I use the heavy cream do I cut the quantity? Keep it the same as half and half.

      • Reply
        October 6, 2020 at 12:54 pm

        You could use the same quantity, or, if you want to lighten it, just cut it with a little water.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Do you have nutritional I for for this bisque?

  • Reply
    elaine dahlquist
    February 19, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Is this recipe from the Green Flash Restaurant in Captiva Florida?

    • Reply
      February 19, 2020 at 9:16 am

      No, maybe they found my recipe!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Hello Sue – this is my first attempt at Bisque.. I will be using Head On – Royal Reds as they taste more like lobster than shrimp- when preparing the stock do I use the entire head as well as the shell? Thanks Sue. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2019 at 10:52 am

      Yes, that will give lots of flavor, it sounds really special!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    I made your shrimp bisque today and it was fabulous. I received rave reviews from my husband and he couldn’t stop eating it. I made my own stock from grilled shrimp shells and used leftover grilled shrimp from the day before. Thanks for the great recipe. For those that have not made this, it truly is worth the effort!!!!!

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Appreciate your feedback Valerie 🙂

  • Reply
    February 24, 2019 at 11:36 am

    This is the best soup ever! Although I have been cooking for 50 years, your recipes have encouraged me to try new ingredients (leeks) and techniques (making a shrimp broth) I am really enjoying getting your recipes via email. Keep up the good work!!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Just found your website – Love it! Question about the leeks in the shrimp bisque recipe – do I use the whole leek or just the white? I’m newer to leeks so not sure. Am so looking forward to making this for my family!

    • Reply
      December 13, 2018 at 6:55 am

      I always use the white and just a little bit of the pale green, Ann. As long as its tender it’s great to use. I trim off all the dark green tough parts, and then peel off the tougher outer layers before slicing. Make sure you rinse the slices well, leeks have a tendency to be gritty.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Is there anything I can substitute for the Brandy?

    • Reply
      December 12, 2018 at 7:50 am

      You might try Sherry, white wine, or cognac. If you don’t drink alcohol you can leave it out.

  • Reply
    Carolyn Wylie
    December 4, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    Can you make this soup a day ahead

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm

      Yes, it will probably get better 🙂

      • Reply
        November 11, 2019 at 10:44 am

        Do I double the ingredients in order to make a big batch of the shrimp bisque?

        • Reply
          November 11, 2019 at 12:19 pm

          That should work fine.

    • Reply
      March 23, 2020 at 3:09 pm

      Cant wait to make this! What can I replace the alcohol with?

  • Reply
    October 21, 2018 at 9:24 am

    This looks delish! Where can I find those gorgeous bowls?!?

    • Reply
      October 21, 2018 at 9:30 am

      I link to the artist in the post, Nicole, she’s a potter I featured a few years ago on the blog here.

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

    Can I make night before

    • Reply
      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
      May 17, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Wow, that sounds heavenly!

  • Reply
    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
        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
    December 28, 2017 at 7:56 am

    How many servings does this recipe make?

    • Reply
      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
    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
      December 1, 2017 at 9:01 am

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

  • Reply
    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!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Hi! Definitely going to try this! Just curious though, is it necessary to puree or will it be fine without it?

    • Reply
      June 9, 2017 at 8:09 am

      Hi Lyse ~ I can’t say for sure how it would be without pureeing, but you can certainly try it that way, and if you don’t love the texture, you can then puree.

      • Reply
        October 16, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        Since I’m cooking in a hotel and didn’t have a blender, I didn’t puree mine. I liked the texture just fine. I might use a little less stock the next time I make it. And more shrimp, lol.

        • Reply
          October 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm

          That’s great to know Mike, I honestly wouldn’t have thought that it would work that way! Good for you for making such a nice meal in a hotel!

          • Mike
            October 18, 2017 at 9:25 am

            I prefer bigger chunks of shrimp anyway, and I had chopped the leeks finely, so there really weren’t any large pieces of leeks in the bisque.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Freaking love shrimp bisque but have always been intimidated by the idea of making it. You really break it down well here! It certainly came out beautifully. Pinkies out!

    • Reply
      April 7, 2017 at 7:15 am

      Thanks Jessie ~ those shrimp shells really do the trick for the broth, I think that’s the key!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    I can’t wait to try this! I have this memory of lobster bisque that probably goes back to the 80’s it’s been a quest!

    • Reply
      April 1, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      I know what you mean, those food memories can’t haunt!

  • Reply
    Karen (Back Road Journal)
    March 6, 2017 at 10:11 am

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

  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      Thanks Cheri <3

  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm

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

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      I agree, the soup would be great with a crunchy touch!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Is the 1/2 c tomato paste correct?

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 11:48 am

      That’s what I used, Shelly, and I found it was needed for getting the color I wanted. The flavor doesn’t dominate.

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    February 22, 2017 at 10:07 pm

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

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Cognac makes everything better!

  • Reply
    Sandy Kreyer
    February 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm

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

    • Reply
      February 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      It’s my pleasure!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm

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

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 8:44 am

    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.

    • Reply
      February 22, 2017 at 8:46 am

      I just got back from Florida, Penny ~ maybe that’s what made me crave this soup!

  • Reply
    Lindsay Cotter
    February 22, 2017 at 8:35 am

    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!

  • Reply
    Luci's Morsels
    February 22, 2017 at 8:10 am

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

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    February 22, 2017 at 8:09 am

    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.

    • Reply
      February 22, 2017 at 8:13 am

      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 🙂

  • Reply
    Cliona Keane
    February 22, 2017 at 7:52 am

    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!

  • Reply
    Brandi Crawford
    February 22, 2017 at 7:24 am

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

  • Reply
    Jessy @ The Life Jolie
    February 22, 2017 at 6:59 am

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

    • Reply
      February 22, 2017 at 7:19 am

      Yes, and perfect to serve in all those tiny vintage bowls I’m forever collecting from the thrift store!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    February 22, 2017 at 6:35 am

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

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    February 22, 2017 at 4:36 am

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

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    February 22, 2017 at 4:05 am

    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!

    • Reply
      February 22, 2017 at 6:04 am

      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 🙂