Creamy and luxurious, this shrimp bisque is a copycat version Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen’s crawfish bisque, which just so happened to be one of my top two favorite meals when I waited tables there during college. (This seafood fondue was the other.)
Somewhere between all the double shifts and the late night closings I befriended one of the cooks, and although he didn’t give me the exact recipe, he gave me some hints for which I am most grateful.
Unlike most of my recipes – like this quick egg drop soup and these chicken nuggets – this one takes a little time to prepare, but it’s oh-so-worth-it and nothing is wasted. Shrimp shells are simmered with butter and paprika to create a flavorful, briny broth that serves as the base for the soup. Rich cream is then added along with bay seasoning, ripe tomatoes and a touch of sherry with chopped shrimp folded in. It’s so good just typing this inspired me to add it onto next week’s meal plan – I hope you love it as much as we do.
Also, quick tip: Stash an extra bowl for yourself in the back of the fridge for later. It’s yummy cold, too. 🙂
- 3 lbs shrimp (with shells on)
- 8 tbsp butter (divided)
- 6 tbsp arrowroot flour
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp Old Bay-style seasoning (I actually use New Bae from Primal Palate)
- 5 cups water or chicken broth (how to make chicken broth)
- 1 cup minced green bell pepper
- 1 cup minced yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
- ¼ cup sherry
- 1 – 2 tsp sea salt
- Steaming shrimp inside the shell makes them tender rather than rubbery, so to devein them while keeping the shells on I use a clean pair kitchen scissors to cut down the back of the shrimp. With the top area exposed, I can usually use my scissors to remove anything I see, or another option is simply to rinse them after trimming.
- Bring water to a boil and place half the shrimp inside a steamer basket. Cover and steam until they turn pink – about 4-6 minutes – tossing a few times to make sure that the ones at the bottom don’t overcook. Chill shrimp immediately to keep them from cooking further.
- Peel the shrimp once they have cooled. Set aside the peels for stock, then place the shrimp back in the fridge.
- Before you start the stock, you're going to make a roux, which will thicken the bisque.
- Add 6 tablespoons butter and 6 tablespoons arrowroot flour to a pan and cook over low/med heat for 4-5 minutes, then pour the roux into a small container and set aside.
- In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons butter, shrimp shells, paprika, and bay seasoning. Sautee on low for 2-3 minutes, mashing a little as you stir to crush the shells.
- Next, add in 5 cups water or chicken broth and bring to a boil. When water reaches a boil reduce the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. While the shells are simmering, set aside several whole shrimp for garnish (as many as you will need for serving) then chop the rest into pieces.
- When the 15 minutes is up, strain out the shells and return broth to the pot. Add in onion, green bell pepper, tomato paste, tomatoes, and cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then add in sherry and chopped shrimp and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Last, whisk the roux (it has probably separated a little) and pour it into the pot while stirring constantly – I use a whisk to stir. Simmer (uncovered this time) for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt to taste. I start with 1 teaspoon and increase in ½ teaspoon increments as needed.
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Oh wow, this looks delicious! I’m definitely going to have to try it!!!
Thanks, Brittany. This is one of my top five comfort foods. Every time I make it I end up wishing I had doubled or tripled the recipe!
Miriam Simms Minzenmayer via Facebook
Perfect timing! Thank you. This will be for dinner this weekend.
This looks fabulous. I just happen to have most of these ingredients on hand, so maybe it’ll be on the menu this weekend!
Mommypotamus via Facebook
Miriam – Did you get a chance to make the bisque last weekend? If so I hope you enjoyed it!
Ok, so I’m making this for dinner tonight and I’m confused about a step. When do I remove the shells from the bisque?? Am I missing something here?
Nevermind…I figured it out. =) I think it’s a typo in step one where it says to add shrimp (should say shrimp shells?). It smells so good, I can’t wait to taste it!
Oops! Looks like I was replying to you when you posted that last comment. Glad you figured it out 🙂
Oh dear, there was a typo in step 1 of the bisque instructions. It said “add shrimp” when it SHOULD have said “add shells.” That could certainly cause a lot of confusion! So, to answer your question, add the shells in step on and remove them in step 3. I hope you like it!
It was delicious!! The whole family was raving! =) Thanks!
(sigh of relief) I’m always worried I wrote out a recipe wrong until someone comes back and tells me it worked. One time I posted a recipe for pizza dough and my friend ended up with flour soup . . . oops! Thanks for letting me know it worked out. 🙂
I’ve made a very similar recipe. The biggest difference is I use chicken stock as half the water. I also use coconut oil for the butter. My whole family loves!
That would be delicous, Zsofia! I’m adding it to the post so I don’t forget next time I make this. Thank you!
I made this yesterday and it was excellent!! I did use 1/2 water and 1/2 stock for more flavor, and the full amount of cayenne. My husband is not really a soup fan and even he loved this!! Well done!
Score! Hubs approved soup! Thanks for letting me know, LeAnn!
Made this and the hubs loved it! My 1 year old and I liked it pretty well too 🙂 How thick is it supposed to be? Mine definitely wasn’t restaurant thick but I didn’t exactly measure the water, just eyeballed it. I love recipes that incorporate the “trimmings” as well!
I’ve been eying this recipe for weeks now and I finally got shrimp today… so guess what I made for dinner? Me and my dad love it! It’s his favorite thing I’ve made in a while 😀 Thanks so much for the recipe and for your whole blog! It’s my fav. thing to read! Also, with the bisque, we ended up blending it all at the end so that the shrimp were shredded (like crab), and liked it even more!
Ahhh, I am so glad you liked it, Allie! I think we’ll have to try blending it, too – and maybe add some crab!
How did I miss this recipe before???? I’ve got tons of shrimp in the freezer that I’ve been uninspired to use…………….well now I’m inspired! Thanks 😀
Krystal Wight Armstrong
I loove seafood, and soup, but I’m one of those weirdos that’s super finicky about spicy stuff (as in the cayenne pepper …I can’t help it, ‘inherited overly sensitive tastebuds). Anyway, do you think this will still be tasty without cayenne? I know some things you can’t just leave the spice out of without ruining, but sometimes you can, so thought I’d ask…because it looks Soo good, but I couldn’t do the cayenne. Thanks!
Yes, you can! I make it without cayenne for my kiddos 🙂
Krystal Wight Armstrong
Awesome, Thanks! 🙂
I cannot wait to try this!!
I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. Thank you for being so open and offering your experience to newbies like me!
This looks wonderful — will make this week!
Made this tonight! It was delicious. I’m not much of a cook but it worked perfectly.
Thanks mommypotamus for your easy to follow recipes!
Do you have recommendations for safe sources of shrimp?
Would coconut milk/cream work instead of whipping cream?