Amazing Shrimp Bisque

Nothing says comfort food like a piping hot bowl of soup.  Try this on one of these frigid winter days with a grilled cheese sandwich for dipping.  Bite sized chunks of shrimp add texture and interest to this sumptuous lowcountry specialty.

Mother made this often for her bridge club on Lady’s Island when they gathered at her home on the river.  It’s right out of her old wooden recipe file, handwritten on a little note card.


2 cups shellfish broth

1 pound fresh local shrimp

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely minced

1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1 cup half and half

dash cayenne pepper

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons dry sherry

Bring 3 cups water to a boil and add the shrimp.  Cover and bring to a second boil.  Ladle shrimp out of the water and rinse under cold water.  Shell and devein the shrimp and cut them into small pieces.  Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade, finely mince half the shrimp.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.  Return the shells to the cooking liquid.  Bring it back to a boil and cook until it is reduced to 2 cups.  Strain the broth and discard the shells.

Use a paper towel to wipe out the pot and add the butter and the finely minced onion.  Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring until smooth.  Slowly stir in the broth, milk and half and half.  Season well with salt and a dash of cayenne pepper.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer, stirring often for about 20-25 miinutes.

Add the rest of the shrimp and cook until they are heated through, about 2 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve adding a tablespoon of sherry to each serving.  Garnish each serving with a slice of lemon, if desired.