Shrimp Bisque Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
This shrimp bisque recipe has rave reviews, with many cooks calling it the best soup they've ever had. You won't believe how easy it is to make from scratch.

Updated: May 10, 2024

Shrimp is one of the most popular types of seafood in the country. We suspect that shrimp’s mild, sweet-and-savory flavor plays a big part in its popularity, but easy shrimp recipes that make it simple to get dinner on the table quickly don’t hurt either. However, our favorite shrimp dishes aren’t just convenient—they feel truly special to eat, and this shrimp bisque soup is one of them. This recipe can be served in several settings, whether it’s on a weeknight for families who love seafood or as presented as part of a holiday spread.

Bisques sound fancy, but this one has an ingredient list that couldn’t be less intimidating; most of them are already in your pantry. Here’s how to make a simple and delicious shrimp bisque recipe.

What is shrimp bisque?

Shrimp bisque is a smooth, rich, creamy soup that originated in France. Traditional bisque recipes can be made with many kinds of seafood. For example, lobster bisque is a decadent classic. However, you can also make bisques without seafood, such as parsnip bisque. Bisques are often confused with chowders, which can also star seafood or vegetables (think clam chowder).

Ingredients for Shrimp Bisque Soup

  • Shrimp: For this recipe, you can use any type of shrimp, whether you prefer farmed or wild-caught. Fresh, frozen or pre-cooked shrimp will all work for this recipe as well, making small adjustments to the method. If you use raw shrimp, get ready to devein and clean the shrimp before cooking; if using cooked shrimp, simply add them to the soup at the very end of cooking just to warm them through.
  • Garlic and onion: As in many soup recipes, this one begins with sauteing onion until soft and sweet, then adding garlic to the saucepan. This creates a flavorful, savory base for the creamy soup.
  • Cream: To achieve the classic rich, creaminess of bisque, this soup calls for a half cup of heavy whipping cream. If you prefer, you may use an alternative with less fat, including half-and-half or even milk.
  • Seasonings: Inspired by both Cajun and Mexican cuisines, this bisque calls for chili powder, cumin and coriander. It’s very versatile, however, you may change up the seasonings to suit your taste.
  • Bouillon: This soup calls for chicken bouillon and water instead of broth. Vegetable bouillon is fine, too. If you’d prefer to use up broth you have on hand, you can do so—or if you’re out of bouillon and broth, you can simply use water, keeping in mind the soup will be a little less flavorful.
  • Sour cream: Sour cream plays many roles in this recipe. It adds creaminess, of course, but it also thickens the broth and lends a tanginess that brightens the rich soup. If you prefer, you can use low-fat or nonfat sour cream.

Directions

Step 1: Make a roux

In a small saucepan, saute the onion in oil until tender. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the flour until blended.

Editor’s Tip: A roux sounds fancy and French, but it’s simply a paste of flour and fat, which makes a flavorful, thick base for a soup.

Step 2: Make the broth

Stir in the water, cream, chili powder, bouillon, cumin and coriander. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Add the shrimp

Cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces. Add them to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes longer, or until the shrimp turn pink.

Step 4: Add cream

Remove about 1/2 cup of soup from the pot and gently whisk it into the sour cream. Return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Heat through, but do not boil. Remove from heat.

Editor’s Tip: Boiling the sour cream will make it curdle, so be extra careful not to let the soup get too hot.

Step 5: Serve

If desired, garnish with cilantro, avocado and additional shrimp.

Shrimp Bisque Variations

  • Make a shrimp stock: It’s super easy to make shrimp stock. If you’ve shelled the shrimp, simply cover the shells with water and boil them for 15 to 20 minutes, then strain. You can add the heads to the broth, too, if you used live shrimp. Use this broth in place of the water and bouillon for a delicious soup with extra-rich shrimp flavor.
  • Use a mirepoix as the base: While garlic and onion deliver a punchy flavor, try starting with a mirepoix for a milder, sweeter, vegetable-forward soup. Mince equal parts onion, celery and carrot and saute until tender, then continue with the recipe as written.
  • Change up the seafood: Even though it’s called a shrimp bisque, this soup is a delight with any seafood: clams, white fish, salmon—whatever you like. Use whatever seafood you choose instead of or in addition to the shrimp.
  • Play with the seasonings: This soup is a blank slate for spices. If you don’t want the Mexican flavors, omit the chili powder and add Cajun or Creole seasoning. A bit of tomato paste will add earthy sweetness, and herbs like parsley or thyme lend a lively green note. Or, replace all the spices with Old Bay seasoning.
  • Give it a little kick: Try adding a dash of cayenne pepper or stir in a few drops of hot sauce.
  • Add some grown-up flavor: Want to make a fancier, dinner party-worthy soup? Add a splash of Cognac or sherry to the bisque.

How to Store Shrimp Bisque

Leftover shrimp bisque should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to two days. Gently reheat the bisque on the stovetop before serving.

How to Freeze Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp bisque is on the list of soups you can freeze. Allow the bisque to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. If using a jar or plastic container, be sure to leave about an inch of headspace, as the soup will expand when frozen. One trick we like to use when freezing soup is to spoon the soup into freezer bags, lay them flat on a baking sheet until frozen solid and stack them for easy, efficient storage.

Shrimp bisque will keep for three months in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Shrimp Bisque Tips

What can you serve with shrimp bisque?

Shrimp bisque is hearty enough to enjoy as a main course with a loaf of crusty bread and a vegetable side, such as leafy green salad or asparagus. Bisque would be a tasty choice when looking for seafood recipes for Christmas or another special occasion. Otherwise, serve before a seafood main course, such as baked white fish, scallops with spinach or decadent broiled lobster tail.

How can you make a smooth shrimp bisque?

If you want a super-smooth bisque, use an immersion blender to puree the broth before adding the shrimp. The silky-smooth bisque will be worthy of adding to your list of fancy dinner party recipes.

Watch how to Make Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp Bisque

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 3 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons sodium-free chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro, cubed avocado and additonal shrimp, optional

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in flour until blended. Stir in the water, cream, chili powder, bouillon, cumin and coriander; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Cut shrimp into bite-size pieces; add to soup. Simmer 5 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink. Gradually stir 1/2 cup hot soup into sour cream; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Heat through (do not boil). Garnish with cilantro, avocado and additional shrimp if desired.
I enjoy both Cajun and Mexican cuisine, and this rich, elegant soup combines the best of both. I serve it with a crispy green salad and glass of white wine for a simple but very special meal.—Karen Harris, Castle Rock, Colorado