Start by making a rich stock and then layer in flavor with tomato paste, bourbon, and pancetta for the best creamy shrimp bisque! This cozy soup will have you feeling like you’re in a French bistro without having to leave the house.
This time of year always has me thinking about creamy soups and fancy recipes. Part of it is the weather, another part is the upcoming holidays, but with my anniversary in October and my birthday in November (and, yes, I do make something special at home for each of these, though I usually pair that with another night out 😉 ) I have extra reasons to think about celebration foods.
And this recipe is one of my favorites! I seriously love a seafood bisque and it’s one of my go-tos for date nights, small dinner parties, and the like. A while back I shared my fabulous easy lobster bisque and now it’s time for the shrimp version.
What do you need?
- Shell on Shrimp – You will use the shells to make the stock. Get extra large or jumbo to make the peeling easier.
- Vegetables – Shallots and carrots, roughly chopped.
- Clam Juice – Two cups plus 2 cups of water to make the stock.
- Tomato Paste – I buy it in a tube which makes it easy to get out a little and then seal it up.
- Pancetta – Diced pancetta or thick cut bacon.
- Bourbon – Just a little, but it makes a big difference.
- Heavy Cream – To bring in all together.
- Seasonings – Here I like a bay leaf and a little cayenne for spice. A pinch or two of nutmeg or paprika is nice too.
How to make this
To make shrimp bisque first make a stock using the shells. Then saute pancetta and add flour to create a roue before pouring in the stock and cream. Finally, add shrimp to the hot soup and cook through.
1. Make the Stock
Start by sauteing up carrots, shallots, and shrimp shells. Add some tomato paste and let it caramelize a bit as you stir. Then pour in the clam juice and water. Simmer, strain, and you have stock!
Tip: This can be done ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Time for a Roue
In your now empty pot, brown the pancetta and render out its fat. Add a little butter if you don’t get much fat (you’ll need a couple of tablespoons) and then whisk in the flour. There’s your roue!
3. Finish Up
Add the bourbon, the reserved stock, and then the cream. Let it all simmer and thicken while you whisk and stir.
Put the shrimp into the hot soup, take the pot off the heat, and let it sit while they gently cook through.
Serve the bisque with a sprinkling of chives and maybe a bit more salt and pepper. Thin sliced bread brushed with butter or olive oil and toasted makes a tasty and simple crouton to have on the side and dip in the bowl.
If you try my recipe for Shrimp Bisque, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie
Creamy Shrimp Bisque with Pancetta
- 1 lb extra large shrimp, shell on
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, roughly chopped
- 2 medium carrots, large dice
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 16 oz clam juice
- 16 oz water
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-5 oz diced pancetta
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup bourbon, or cognac
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- Peel shrimp and reserve shells. Chop shrimp into bite-sized pieces. If you want, leave one whole (not chopped up) for each serving.
- In a large pot melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, carrots, and shrimp shells. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste. Stir and saute for 20-30 seconds.
- Pour in clam juice and water. Add bay leaf. Bring stock to a boil and then lower to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Pour finished stock through a fine mesh strainer and into a bowl. Discard the solids.
- Add pancetta to the now empty pot and cook on medium heat until the pancetta is browned and you've rendered the fat. If you don't have much fat (a tablespoon or less), add in a tablespoon of butter.
- Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking frequently.
- While whisking, pour in bourbon and the shrimp stock. Bring to a simmer and let bubble for 2 minutes while whisking frequently.
- Add cream and cayenne and bring back to a simmer.
- Add shrimp. Remove pot from heat and let sit 2-3 minutes, or until they are firm and pink. If you left any shrimp whole, fish them out and set them aside for a moment.
- Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed. The ladle a portion into each bowl. Top with chives and any reserved shrimp.
- Shrimp Size: Extra large or jumbo sizes are both easier to peel (since you have a fairly small number to deal with) and provide large pieces for the soup.
- Make Ahead: You can make the recipe through adding the cream and cayenne up to one day ahead. (Or just make the stock ahead.) Bring the soup back to a simmer and make sure it's fully reheated, then add the shrimp and finish up.