Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shrimp Bisque

If offered in a restaurant, THIS is my top choice for a first course – BISQUE. I truly enjoy bisque of any kind with lobster bisque being my favorite. This is a dish that I’ve been wanting to make for some time and it wasn’t until I looked at the pound and a half of shrimp left over in my freezer from the Christmas Cocktail Party that it hit me – It’s Shrimp Bisque time! I started my recipe search at, and if you haven’t visited there yet – I suggest you check it out. If you are a food blogger and haven’t signed up with them yet – do it.

All the recipes I found consisted of raw shrimp and homemade seafood stock. I didn’t have, nor did I want to do either of those things – so I do what I always do and substitute to accommodate my supplies on hand and my time in the kitchen.

When I came across this recipe from Ina Garten on this was hands down my choice for the recipe I was going to follow. I think Ina is a genius in the kitchen, and she’s one of the few food network personalities that doesn’t make me want to put my fist through the television screen. Tyler Florence is another chef that I really enjoy and his recipes always turn out AWESOME.

I am so excited to share this with you because this soup turned out SO FREAKING good. It’s creamy and rich, with a very slight kick and hints of sherry. Okay, on to Ina’s Shrimp Bisque, or my version of Ina’s Shrimp Bisque...

If you are following Ina’s recipe to a “t” then you will need the following:

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
4 cups seafood stock
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
I will let you know my substitutions along the way!

To make fish stock, various internet sites told me to buy fresh whole shrimp and pinch off the heads (reserve them), shell the shrimp (reserve that too) and roast the shells in the oven to intensify the flavor. You should also throw in any fish remains and vegetables like carrots, celery and onion. Simmer on the stove for an hour or so, and skim the impurities off the top, then strain. I thought about doing this…for a millisecond… heck no!

I purchased two containers of fish stock from Central Market for $2.99 each.

I’m sure I could have made it cheaper myself, but I’m simply not willing to go through the trouble of collecting and keeping a bag in the freezer full of seafood parts. Yuck.

Here is what I am willing to do: Back when I made Firecracker Shrimp I had Jim peel all the shrimp for me and put their carcass with legs attached in a zip top bag that went in the freezer. I pulled this out and added it to the stock while it defrosted over the stove.

Meanwhile I took three leeks and trimmed so that I had white and light green parts off the bottom.

I sliced those in half and then chopped. Leeks can be a bit grimy, so I rinsed them in my salad spinner.

In a large Dutch oven I heated my olive oil and then added the leeks to cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the leeks are tender but not browned.

This is a one pound bag of fully cooked shrimp that have been shelled and deveined but have tails on them.

I put the frozen shrimp in some hot water to defrost.

When the leeks were tender, I added my one tablespoon of chopped garlic.
I love the way garlic smells as it cooks.

Now that the shrimp are thawed I take each one and pull the tail off.

The shrimp go in the Dutch oven.

And I put the tails in my simmering stock pot.

Now I put a light sprinkle of cayenne pepper over the pound of shrimp in the Dutch oven.
Cook for three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the Cognac or Brandy.
Cook for one minute.

Then add the sherry and cook for three minutes longer.

Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Process (pulse) until coarsely pureed. Just a few seconds.

In the same Dutch oven, melt half a stick of butter.

Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon.

Stir over medium-low heat for one minute.

Add the half-and-half and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened.

Whisk for about three minutes.

Stir in the pureed shrimp.

This smells wonderful right about now!
Strain the seafood stock.

Now pour that into the Dutch oven.

Ina calls for 3 ¾ cup of stock. I ended up with three cups of stock and could have added water to make up the extra ¾ cup but decided I wanted the more intense fish stock flavor.

Next add the tomato paste to the bisque.

Add salt and pepper.

Stir together and then taste test.

Oh my goodness this is PERFECT. Nothing more, nothing less. This is just how I like my bisque.
At some fancy restaurants your bisque will be served with a small glass of sherry to pour over the soup. This soup has enough sherry in it, no need to add more. It’s really really really good!

Happy 30th Birthday Somer!


  1. Oh Mandy, that looks GOOOD! I'm glad you're back and with a vengence...Ha! I think I might have to try that soon.

  2. I made this soup as well and did the same with the shrimp shells. I also added some crab meat to make it crab and shrimp bisque. So good!

  3. I must say that looks amazing! I don't do seafood, but will gladly have shellfish. I just don't know that I could do the fish stock. We'll see.


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