Silky and rich shrimp / prawn bisque flavored with aromatics, finished with cream, is a delicious, easy and show stopping appetizer recipe.
Full recipe + amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Prawns / Shrimp. I have made this many times using only the shells and heads and thickening the soup with a little flour, this is especially great when you have shells and heads left over from using the prawns for another recipe. However, the prawn meat definitely adds more flavor and texture. Use raw, whole but deveined shrimp for the best results.
- Chicken / Fish stock.
- Aromatics: Bay leaf, garlic, lemon peel, peppercorns.
- Smoked paprika.
- Tomato paste.
- Lemon juice.
- Salt and pepper.
- Parsley, to serve.
How to make prawn bisque
- Make the base: In a large pot set over medium-high heat, cook the shells and heads of the prawns until orange and fragrant. Add the bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns and lemon peel as well as the stock. Season with salt then allow to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid ajar. After 30 minutes, blend with an immersion blender until as smooth as possible then run through a sieve and discard all of the shells.
- Make the bisque: In a separate pot, melt the butter and cook the onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Then add the smoked paprika, tomato paste and sugar. Pour in the prawn stock. Cook for 20 minutes then add the prawn/shrimp meat and cook for a few minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Blend the soup until smooth. I do this in my high-powered blender to make sure it’s very smooth but you can use any blender and then pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve again.
- Finish: Pour the strained/blended soup back into a pot set over medium heat. Pour in the cream and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Season to taste and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. At this point, if the soup seems too thin, whisk in some flour mixed with water and allow to cook until thickened. Serve the bisque with a swirl of cream and parsley. I fried some whole shrimp/prawns in a splash of oil to add to the top but this is optional.
Can I make this ahead?
The shrimp bisque can be made a day in advance and kept covered in the fridge. Reheat in a saucepan set over medium-low heat, avoiding allowing the bisque to boil.
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Servings: 6 as a starter/appetizer
- 1 kg (2lbs) prawns Shells and heads remove, meat reserved
- 6 cups (1.5l) chicken/fish stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
- 2 pieces of lemon peel yellow part only
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup cream
- salt & pepper to taste
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Fresh parsley chopped, to serve
- 1.5 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/2 cup water (to thicken if necessary)
- Place the prawn shells and heads in a pot and add the stock, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, lemon peel and garlic. Bring up to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, covered until the stock is well infused by the shells.
- After 30 minutes, blend with an immersion blender until as smooth as possible then run through a sieve and discard all of the shells.
- In a separate pot, melt a little butter and fry the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds before adding the smoked paprika, tomato paste and sugar.
- Allow to fry for 30 seconds then pour in the prawn stock.
- Cook for 20 minutes then add the prawn/shrimp meat and cook for a few minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Blend the soup until smooth. I do this in my high-powered blender to make sure it's very smooth but you can use any blender and then pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve again.
- Pour the strained/blended soup back into a pot set over medium heat. Pour in the cream and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Season to taste and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. At this point, if the soup seems too thin, whisk in some flour mixed with water and allow to cook until thickened. Serve the bisque with a swirl of cream and parsley. I fried some whole shrimp/prawns in a splash of oil to add to the top but this is optional.
- Season to taste and serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 442mg | Sodium: 1782mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 325IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 269mg | Iron: 4mg
When blending the prawn heads & shells do you leave the bay leaves in to be blended with it?
Yes, I leave them in but you can remove if preferred.
The recipe sounds great! If I’m making thr chicken broth from scratch, can I add the prawn heads along wiyh the chicken bones and simmer for 30 mins?
Hi. I tried it and turned out really good for my first attempt. Thanks
Do you blend the prawn heads and shells then sieve.
Yes, this allows maximum flavor.
Hi! Your recipes look delicious!! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us ?
Can I freeze cooked prawn heads and then use them for the bisque or is it a bad idea?
that looks so yummy, very curious about it’s taste.
Just so easy and the end result is delicious. Also freezes well. I added Moreton Bay Bug shells but removed from the mix before blending.
Fantastic taste just like a top restaurant. Sautéd the onions and garlic in olive oil instead of butter.
Absolutely amazing and so easy. Thank you,
Made this yesterday with Christmas prawn shells. Yummmm. I once worked in a restaurant where chef made a seafood bisque and this tastes almost identical. I wasn’t exact with my measurements, never am but the flavour is divine. Thanks for the easy to do recipe.
Can I use prawn broth instead of chicken broth?
I made this yesterday and I have to say it was one of the best dishes I have ever tasted, thanks so much.
Made Masterchef Turmeric Garlic prawns last night, today I made this wonderful bisque with the heads/shells. Adjusted the recipe a bit, braised the heads and shells in olive oil. Only used 1 litre of stock. Popped the Spanish onion top & tail into the stock. I always use cornflour for thickening and about 1/2 cup of cram at the end.
Alida, thank you, that’s what recipes are for, guidelines, always moveable.
Served with sourdough garlic baguette.
Exactly, I love when readers use my recipes as guides and put their own spin on them. This sounds delicious Mary! 🙂
I left the lemon juice out but it was still great. 5 stars from me.
Lovely might try using slight Sautéed shells and heads next time to give it a deeper flavour ?
This turned out beautiful. Thanks ?
I’m about to serve but can’t see where I put the lemon juice…? I’m reading this off my mobile so might have just missed it in my frenzy?
I add the lemon as part of the seasoning right at the end. 🙂
Sounds great, Alida! I love the bowls!
Thanks Zirkie! 🙂