Raise your hand if you like a creamy shrimp bisque? Coming from New England, mine is high and waggling. (Think Horshack in Welcome Back, Kotter.“) I’ll eat it anytime, anywhere, with just about anyone. Now, raise your hand if you like a shrimp bisque that takes only a half-hour to make? If you have a pulse, I know you’re with me.

This recipe, which can be eaten while on a keto or low-carb diet, is packed with flavor. And you’re not going to have to scour specialty markets for the ingredients. Chances are you have everything on hand. So, I have one last question for you: Why are you still reading this? Go! You’re just 30 minutes away from a great meal.–David Leite

Shrimp Bisque FAQs

How can I spice up the bisque?

There are lots are ways. For an East Asian flair, try chile paste, some coconut cream, and substitute cilantro for the parsley. For a Cajun inflection, add some cayenne pepper, dried oregano, and thyme. (It already has paprika, onions, and garlic.) For an Indian flavor, consider ground cumin, cardamom, or coriander, and tons of chiles. Really, you can go almost any direction with this shrimp bisque.

Can I use frozen shrimp in the bisque?

Yes. Just make sure to thaw them completely, then pat them dry so they don’t make the bisque watery.

Can I thicken the shrimp bisque?

One hundred percent. No problemo. Simply mix 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of clam juice or water and stir the slurry into the simmering bisque. Cook until it thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Now, if you do this, you’ll increase the carbohydrates by 5 grams. So if you’re on keto, take heed.

Two bowls of shrimp bisque on a white table

Shrimp Bisque

4.75 / 12 votes
Shrimp are a great source of lean protein. Stir them into a rich, creamy bisque for a delicious, lunch centerpiece or as a starter to a well-rounded dinner.
David Leite
CourseAppetizers, Lunch
CuisineAmerican
Servings2 to 4 servings
Calories497 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) chopped yellow onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup seafood stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • Table salt (optional)
  • 1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly add the wine, then stir in the celery salt and paprika. Stir in the tomato paste and clam juice.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes. Using a blender or immersion blender, purée the mixture until smooth.
  • Return the mixture to the saucepan, if necessary, then add the heavy cream, 1/2 cup of stock or water, and the unsalted butter. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
  • Cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces and add them to the soup. Simmer until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Top with parsley, if desired, and serve.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If you prefer a thicker bisque, mix 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and stir in to the simmering soup. Cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Low Carb Yum Simple Keto

Adapted From

Low Carb Yum Simple Keto Meals for Beginners

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 497 kcalCarbohydrates: 8 gProtein: 17 gFat: 42 gSaturated Fat: 22 gMonounsaturated Fat: 15 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 256 mgSodium: 3036 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Lisa MarcAurele. Photo © 2021 Lauren Volo. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

We enjoyed this shrimp bisque which is super-easy to make and takes about 30 minutes. It makes a great weeknight meal or starter for a more elaborate dinner.

Two bowls of shrimp bisque on a black table

This shrimp bisque is a nice and simple throwback recipe for the 20th century that deserves to be added to the recipe repertoire. I served it as a light lunch for a few visitors, and everyone enjoyed it. It’s a light bisque, with the clam broth lingering subtly in the dish, and the paprika comes through as well.

I only poached my shrimp bits in the broth for 5 minutes, so they were tender and juicy. Here’s a tip for trying to get as much use from the shrimp and shells as possible – I placed a cup of water and all the shrimp shells in another pot and let it simmer/reduce during step 1. I used that flavored, but unseasoned, ‘shrimp stock’ as my 1/2 cup water component. This is a recipe that can easily be doubled or tripled for larger gatherings.

I love shrimp bisque and having the opportunity to cook it, so I decided to give this recipe a try and I love it. It took less than 45 minutes to be ready and the ingredients are easy to find. It got a delicious flavor, the heavy cream mixed with the tomato paste is one of my favorite flavors and the size of the shrimp was perfect.

In my mind, I equate eating shrimp bisque with being on vacation–warm sun, tropical breezes, palm trees, white wine, and a starter of shrimp bisque. This lovely and very easy version is simply and perfectly seasoned with celery salt, paprika, a little garlic, and the hint of white wine. I substituted chicken broth for clam juice without detriment to flavor. A perfect recipe for those little shrimp that just need to be cut in half and gently simmered in the soup base. This is a “keeper” recipe!

I gave this a Testers Choice designation–with reservation–but with a few adjustments, it’s worthy. What impressed me most about this recipe is it has such a delicate yet rich flavor with so few ingredients. I didn’t feel guilty eating this at all with only 1/2 cup cream. Using clam juice adds such a great flavor without the calories. If I closed my eyes, I could have been in one of downtown Charleston’s finer restaurants savoring every drop of my starter.

I served it with a big fall salad of roasted delicata squash, feta, toasted pecans, and pomegranate arils over romaine and arugula dressed with a maple syrup balsamic vinaigrette. Warm multigrain sourdough on the side.

This shrimp bisque was quick and easy to make, and I’ll say it turned out pretty tasty. Many of the ingredients I already had on hand, and others, such as clam broth, are affordable and easy to find.

If you’re using frozen shrimp, I suggest thawing before you get started as the soup doesn’t take long to make. I added fresh parsley at the end and served it with some French bread for a nice lunch. I’d also suggest using a standing blender instead of an immersion blender as there may not be enough liquid to avoid getting splashed!

Oh, wow, this is good! It’s an easy recipe, and unbelievable that one can have a soup with this much flavor in so short a time. The broth is soft, rich, and creamy with a deeply distinct seafood flavor. The first time I made this, I couldn’t find clam juice, so I substituted chicken broth, extra white wine, and fish sauce; the bisque was okay, but notably lacking that shellfish taste.

When I did find great clam juice (Bar Harbor all-natural in a glass bottle), the broth was transformed, and I will stock clam juice in my pantry forevermore. We used smaller shrimp the first time and left them whole, and larger shrimp the second time and cut them up; we preferred the former. Sauvignon blanc was a better choice than the pinot grigio we first used, and just right with dinner.

This shrimp bisque is definitely a keeper, and I’ll be making it again, with these minor modifications.

I’d increase the time after adding the tomato paste and clam juice another 10 minutes just so the flavors could meld a bit longer, but that’s certainly not a requirement.

The soup seemed to curdle and become grainy, even though I tried to keep it at a simmer (though at one point, when I stepped away briefly, the soup bubbled momentarily, which I’m sure helped promote that graininess). Fortunately, it didn’t affect the taste, but simmering is key–not only to prevent curdling, but when adding the shrimp, you don’t want them to get tough.

Going forward, I would heat the cream slightly and gradually pour it into the blending process, which makes a better emulsion and would have given the soup a creamier mouthfeel.

I would also add a bit of flour mixed with a bit of clam juice (or pre-blended soup) to make it thicker (but that would add carbs…)

I enjoyed the shrimp bisque and found it to be filling for dinner, Served with crusty bread and salad.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Bisque is always too heavy and gloppy for my taste. This however was excellent, almost light despite the cream and butter. The recipe is a total keeper and I can’t wait to make again. A signature recipe in the making? Possibly. I used 2X frozen thawed shrimp and simmered the shells to make a stock to substitute for clam juice. I skipped the blender step. I made it ahead of time, including the slurry, all but cooking the shrimp just before serving. I saved one whole shrimp for the top and sprinkled with a little fresh dill. Wowzer. My husband says I’m not allowed to change a thing. SO THANKS! Onto the second course on NYE …

    1. That’s wonderful, LK. Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know. We’re delighted you’ve found a keeper.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for a lunch and served it with crusty bread. The recipe doubled easily and everyone went bonkers over it. Deeeee-lish!