Creamy Shrimp Bisque

Classic and elegant Shrimp Bisque ~

Creamy Shrimp Bisque ~ it’s a little bit retro, a little bit ‘ladies who lunch’, but this delicious shrimp chowder is ready for a comeback! Enjoy it as an appetizer in small bowls, or as a light meal with a chunk of bread and a salad.

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

shrimp bisque is a creamy French shellfish soup, alot like a chowder, but bumped up a notch

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. Frozen shrimp is a completely acceptable option.

Classic and elegant Shrimp Bisque ~

What you’ll need for a great shrimp bisque

  • shrimp ~ fresh or frozen, start with medium or large shell-on shrimp. You’ll use those shells to make a broth.
  • leeks ~ the gentle allium, leeks are sweet and onion-y without the bite.
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • cayenne
  • cognac and sherry ~ raid the liquor cabinet for this soup and you’ll be richly rewarded with restaurant style flavor.
  • butter and flour for a roux to thicken the soup.
  • half and half
  • tomato paste ~ this is what gives shrimp bisque its exquisite color.
  • salt and pepper

Jumbo Mexican Shrimp

Little variations make each shrimp bisque recipe unique

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

shrimp chowder ina floral bowl

Classic and elegant Shrimp Bisque ~
3.28 from 198 votes

Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp Bisque ~ this creamy seafood chowder is one of the world's great soups ~ serve it as an appetizer or a light meal.
Course Soup
Cuisine French
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Calories 397kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • food processor or blender


  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, 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.

Cook's notes

*This recipe is lightly adapted from Ina. 


Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 240mg | Sodium: 1254mg | Potassium: 461mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1381IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 226mg | Iron: 3mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this 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:)

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