Creamy Shrimp Bisque

by Emily Kemme
creamy shrimp bisque

We’re doing tiny holidays this year, but that doesn’t mean we won’t take the effort to make the three of us in our Pandemic Bubble feel special. After all, there are some things to celebrate in wrapping up 2020.

One way to create a holiday glow is this classic shrimp bisque. How you choose to serve it can define whether you’re going for an elegant dinner, or a comfy-casual meal. Want to be elegant? Ladle into shallow china bowls for the night before Christmas. Going for warm and cozy? Shrimp bisque is equally yummy sipped from mugs on New Year’s Day. And if your Pandemic family is large enough, sip shrimp bisque shooters as a starter course on Thanksgiving. The possibilities are endless; the message is the same. We cook to show our families how much we love them.

The holidays may take on a lonely tinge this year. We won’t see the beloved faces of our extended families and friends ringing the dinner table. Even so, maybe it’s enough that we sipped this delectable soup and raised a glass to their virtual presence.

May health and happiness be yours during this holiday season, and may 2021 usher in better times for us all.

Creamy Shrimp Bisque Recipe


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells reserved
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, skins removed
  • 1/2 cup cream sherry
  • 1/4 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 8 oz bottle clam juice
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the recipe:

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in stock pot over medium heat. Add reserved shrimp shells and cook for about 5 minutes, or until shells are pink and edges are lightly crisped and beginning to brown. Add 8 cups water and one bay leaf. Simmer on low heat uncovered for 25 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding shells and bay leaf.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook shrimp, stirring until light pink, about 4 minutes. Remove shrimp to a clean bowl.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in skillet. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until scent releases. Add carrots, celery, and onion to skillet and sauté until very soft.

Pour cream sherry into skillet. Bring liquid to low boil, scraping up browned bits until liquid is reduced by half.

Add rice and tomato paste, stirring to incorporate into vegetable mixture. Pour in reserved shrimp stock, clam juice, remaining bay leaf, thyme sprigs, parsley, and cayenne. Stir well and simmer uncovered until rice softens, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reserving 4 shrimp for garnish, stir remaining shrimp into soup base. Extract bay leaf, parsley, and thyme sprigs.

Purée the liquid in batches in a blender, taking care to not overfill because the liquid is hot. Pour puréed bisque through fine mesh strainer set over a medium clean soup pot, pressing down on solids and scraping sides of strainer. Discard any solids remaining in strainer.

Add cream and warm bisque over medium-low heat. Pour in lemon juice and adjust seasonings to taste.

Chop reserved shrimp and divide between four shallow soup bowls. Ladle bisque into bowls. Serve with crusty bread.

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1 comment

Алиса January 31, 2021 - 1:39 am

said she was making this Crema de Camarones, I begged my mom to go to her house so I could have this soup! Thick, rich and creamy, this shrimp soup just soothes me from the first spoonful. This is a simple yet flavorful dish that I find incredibly comforting.


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