A rich, creamy and full-flavored shrimp bisque recipe! With a buttery seafood base and large chunks of shrimp, a bowl of this is cozy, comforting and celebratory.
Table of contents
Why I Love this Shrimp Bisque
First and foremost, this shrimp bisque recipe is cozy, comforting and loaded with flavor. Instead of relying on so-so boxed seafood stock, this recipe uses the shells from the shrimp (which usually get tossed) to create a nuanced and dynamic soup base.
Furthermore, that soup base is much lighter than most. I skip the cream and instead use vegetables, tomato paste, a bit of flour, and whole milk to create a soup that has body and is ultra-creamy.
Watch How to Make This Recipe
What is Bisque?
At its simplest, a bisque is a thick, rich soup most often made of puréed seafood and cream. Vegetables are occasionally part of the mix but are always puréed (unlike chowder which leaves them in chunks).
Traditional bisques are loaded with cream and butter. And if you like it that way, you can certainly do that here (just swap the milk for cream or half-and-half and double the butter). But since we do things healthyish around here, I rely on a few tried-and-true cooking techniques to bolster both the flavor and creaminess of this soup.
Ingredients in Shrimp Bisque
- unsalted butter
- extra-jumbo shell-on shrimp (16/20): not sure how to look for these? Check out this shrimp size chart. Be sure to reserve the shells! This recipe uses the shells to make a quick shrimp stock.
- whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- tomato paste
- fresh thyme sprigs
- dried bay leaves
- dry vermouth: dry white wine is a good substitute.
- bottled clam juice: you can find this next to the anchovies and canned fish.
- whole milk: you can also use half-and-half or heavy cream if you want this extra-decadent.
- Fresh chives or scallions (green onions), for serving
How to Serve Shrimp Bisque
This recipe for shrimp bisque only makes 4 cups. Doesn’t seem like much, but I find the soup is so flavorful and decadent that 4 cups can generally serve 4 people if served with bread and a side salad. However, if you’re planning on this being the main entrée with little to no sides, I would recommend doubling the recipe, especially if you’re serving 4 to 6 people. It’s easy to double the recipe—no special changes needed.
Alternatively, I find this cozy shrimp bisque to be a great appetizer or small bite for holiday parties and get-togethers.
Serve This Soup With
A rich and creamy shrimp bisque that’s just as decadent as the classic while still be fairly light. This recipe features a homemade shrimp stock and whole milk.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound 16/20 shell-on shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cup into ¾-inch chunks; shells reserved
- ½ cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
- ½ cup diced carrot (1 large carrot)
- ½ cup chopped shallot (1 large shallot)
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ½ cup dry vermouth
- 2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon Tabasco + more for serving, optional
- Fresh chives or scallions and red pepper flakes, for serving
- Melt butter in large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add reserved shrimp shells and cook until spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in celery, carrot and shallot; season with salt and cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
- Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves; cook for 1 minute. Deglaze with vermouth, scraping up any browned bits; cook 1 minute.
- Add clam juice and ½ cup water; bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer reduced mixture to blender, add 1 cup milk and blend until completely smooth, at least 1 minute.
- Pour soup through fine-mesh strainer back into Dutch oven or large pot, pressing on solids to extract soup. Discard solids.
- Stir in remaining 1 ½ cups milk; bring soup to simmer over medium heat. Stir in shrimp and Tabasco, if using, and simmer until shrimp are cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Season with salt and additional Tabasco to taste. Serve with chives, Tabasco and/or red pepper flakes.
If you prefer an uber-decadent shrimp bisque, feel free to substitute half-and-half or cream for the whole milk.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 300
- Sugar: 10g
- Sodium: 1783mg
- Fat: 9g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrates: 13g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 30g
- Cholesterol: 246mg
Keywords: shrimp bisque