Shrimp Bisque- NYT Food



Sautéed shrimp shells impart a sweet complexity to the foundation of this deeply flavorful bisque. White rice is slowly simmered in the aromatic broth and then pureed to give the soup body and a velvety consistency, without masking the flavor of succulent shrimp. Serve with chopped steamed shrimp and a crusty baguette. 

Shrimp Bisque
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
75 mins
6 to 8 servings


  • ½ cup unsalted butter (4 ounces), divided

  • 3 large (4-ounce) plum tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1 large (12-ounce) yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1 medium (4-ounce) carrot, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 medium (1 1/2-ounce) celery stalk, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 6 cups uncooked shrimp shells (about 5 1/2 ounces), crab shells, or lobster shells

  • ½ cup uncooked white rice (preferably basmati)

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) brandy

  • 6 (6-inch) flat-leaf parsley sprigs

  • 6 (6-inch) thyme sprigs

  • 1 fresh or dried bay leaf

  • 9 cups water

  • 3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon), plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

  •  teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

  • Crème fraîche

  • Chopped fresh chives (optional)

  • Paprika, cayenne pepper, or Old Bay seasoning, for garnish


  1. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large stockpot over medium. Add tomatoes, onion, carrot, and celery; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes. Increase heat to high, and add shrimp shells and rice; cook, stirring often, until shells turn deep red, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook, stirring often, until browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in brandy. Return to heat over high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Tie together parsley, thyme, and bay leaf using kitchen twine to make a bouquet. Add herb bouquet, 9 cups water, and 2 teaspoons salt to mixture in pot; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Uncover and let cool briefly, about 10 minutes.

  3. Remove and discard herb bouquet from soup mixture. Working in 2 batches, pour soup mixture into a blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a 6-quart saucepan; discard solids.

  4. Bring bisque in saucepan to a low simmer over medium. Whisk in cream, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, remaining 1/4 cup butter, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt until smooth and well combined. Adjust seasoning with additional salt, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.

  5. Divide bisque evenly among bowls. Garnish with crème fraîche, chives, and paprika, cayenne pepper, or Old Bay seasoning, as desired.

Make Ahead

Soup can be prepared through step 3 and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.


Two pounds of shell-on large shrimp yield about 6 cups shrimp shells.


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