Shellfish Bisque


serves 4
24 large prawns or shrimps
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
sprig of thyme or pinch dried thyme
bay leaf
bouquet garni
3 stalks parsley
30 ml (2 tbsp) brandy
60 ml (4 tbsp) white wine
1 litre (1 1/4 pt) water or fish stock
25 g (1 oz) butter
25 g (1 oz) flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
60 ml (4 tbsp) cream


1. Wash the prawns or shrimps thoroughly. Remove the shells and crush them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the onions and carrots over a low heat for about 5 minutes, then add 8 of the prawns or shrimps.

3. Add thyme, bay leaf, bouquet garni and parsley at the side of the pan.

4. Pour the brandy into a ladle and heat, set alight and pour over the shellfish and vegetables.

5. Add the white wine and simmer for 2 minutes.

6. Pour the stock into a saucepan and add the crushed prawn shells.

7. Bring to the boil and simmer for 35 minutes.

8. Mix the butter and flour together with the fingertips into a paste and form into small balls.

9. Pass the soup through a fine sieve.

10. Return the soup to the saucepan, and stirring over a low heat add the balls of flour and butter until the mixture has thickened.

11. Taste for seasoning and add the rest of the prawns for the last 5 minutes cooking time.

12. Stir in the cream just before serving.

Variation Lobster or crayfish shells may be crushed, brought to the boil and simmered with the vegetables. Continue to make soup as in method given above. If the lobster meat has already been eaten, canned lobster may be used as a garnish or the soup may be served without the meat.

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