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Shrimp Bisque with Brandy and Sherry

David Ansel, aka “The Soup Peddler”, is a well known Austinite on a bike. A bike that delivers soup. Brilliant really… why didn’t I think of this concept? His recipe in Food & Wine magazine appealed to me as it has BOTH brandy and sherry.

The more liquor the better, right?

My modifications included adding pancetta (doesn’t it make EVERYTHING better??) and replacing the final heavy cream with crème fraiche. I did use fat free half and half… GASP… but it was still fabulous and I didn’t miss a calorie of flavor.


  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound pancetta, ¼ inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus 8 leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 cups seafood stock (Kitchen Basics is my favorite)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 4 ounces crème fraiche (or 1 cup heavy cream)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a small saucepan, cover the shrimp shells with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain the shrimp stock into a bowl.

In a large skillet cook pancetta until crispy. Drain pancetta to paper towels – leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Add the shrimp, garlic, onion and cayenne and cook over high heat until the shrimp begin to turn pink, about 3 minutes. Add the brandy and boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped basil and the sherry and simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a food processor, add a little of the shrimp stock and puree until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half and cook, whisking, until the roux is very thick, about 5 minutes.

In a soup pot, combine the fish stock and remaining shrimp stock with the tomato paste and the shrimp puree and bring to a simmer over high heat. Slowly whisk in the roux and the crème fraiche. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the bisque into bowls, garnish with the sliced basil and pancetta.

One thought to “Shrimp Bisque with Brandy and Sherry”

  1. Well the soup certainly looks delicious. I may be in town either Friday or Monday, so I look forward to trying the local cuisine. Do all the local dishes have that much cream, butter and alcohol? Yummy!

    Your shisha buddy

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