Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dutch Oven Shrimp Bisque

Once we went to a really fancy italian restaurant, and my sons both tried the lobster bisque. They had heard some comedian talking about it, so they had to try it. Well, of course, they loved it.

I tasted it, too, and I was really impressed. Naturally, when I’m impressed, I want to try to make it. So, I did some research and found some good recipes. Unfortunately, lobster if quite expensive. I decided to do it with shrimp, which, of course, isn’t cheap, either, but at least it’s not as pricey as lobster.

It has a lot of steps, but it’s very flavorful, because of the shrimp stock you make!

2x 12” Dutch oven

each with 20+ coals below

2-3 lbs shrimp
6-8 cups water
1 14 oz can tomato paste

1 1/2 medium onion
3-4 stalks celery, including leaves
3-4 carrots

fresh parsley
chili powder
lemon juice

6 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cornstarch

There are a few ways you could approach this bisque. One way is to use uncooked, unshelled shrimp. Another is to use shrimp that are uncooked, deveined (but still in the shell). A third is to use whole shrimp, complete with the heads. The more stuff that comes with the shrimp, the more flavor you’ll have in your stock. It’s more work, but I’d recommend the whole shrimp. It doesn’t really make a lot of difference how big the shrimp is, either. For this instance, I used uncooked, unshelled shrimp (no heads) that are about the size you normally see in shrimp platters.

I started out with one of my 12" shallow Dutch ovens, covered, with the water.  Once the water was boiling, I tossed in the shrimp and watched them turn that sweet pink\orange shade and curl. If you cook the shrimp too long, they get all rubbery. Once they were done, I pulled them out of the water, but left the Dutch oven on the coals.

Then, I doused them in cold water while I peeled the shells, tails, and deveined them. I threw away the veins, of course, but the shells and tails (and heads if you’ve got them) all went back into the stock to boil some more.  I set aside the shrimp meat, reserving it for later. Once all the shrimp shells and parts were happily boiling away, I added the tomato paste.

I put the lid on and let that boil for a long time. How long? Well, that kinda depends on how much time you have. The longer it boils, the more flavorful the stock. I let it go for about an hour.

As that time was nearing an end, I got a second dutch oven on some coals, with just a bit of oil in the bottom, and I started dicing up the veggies in the second set of ingredients. I tossed those in the second Dutch oven and cooked them until they were quite soft. Then, I took them off the coals and mashed them with the back of a slotted spoon. It will be a coarse mash, and that’s OK.

Then, I strained out all of the garbage out of the stock, and added the smooshed veggies. Then I added in all of the seasonings in the third set of ingredients. Finally, I added in the cream and let it heat and simmer for about another half hour. As it was simmering, I made a slurry of the cornstarch and water, enough to make it very loose and runny (no clumps). I added that in, about a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the bisque. A hint: give some time in between each dose of starch for it to effect the soup, otherwise, you’ll add too much.

Finally, just before serving, I stirred the shrimp meat back into the soup so that it could come back up to serving temperature, and started ladeling out the bowls! It was delicious! I think it would also be great to serve in a bread bowl...

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


  1. Hi Mark,
    I fixed this meal over the weekend and it was great. Thanks for your site and books.

    Archie Thompson
    Moncks Corner, SC

  2. Hi, Archie! Thanks for trying it, and thanks for commenting! -Mark



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