Shrimp-saffron bisque

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15 min


6 to 8 servings

* PLUS Cooking time: 30 minutes


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 2 small potatoes , preferably Yukon Gold
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup port , or marsala
  • 2 240-mL bottles clam juice
  • 3 cups cooked baby or salad shrimp
  • 250-mL container 10% cream , about 1 cup
  • 1/2 tsp salt , optional


  • Coarsely chop garlic and onion. Melt butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, until soft, from 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Coarsely chop unpeeled tomatoes. Add tomatoes along with any juice and seeds to pan and cook, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into small chunks. Stir in potatoes along with saffron, port and clam juice.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered and stirring often, until potatoes are very tender, from 20 to 25 minutes. Add shrimp. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Then pour half of soup into bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Purée until smooth, then pour into a clean saucepan. Purée remaining soup and add to same saucepan. Stir in cream. Return soup to stovetop over medium-high heat. Stir often until hot. Taste and add salt, if necessary. If serving right away, ladle into warm soup bowls or pretty teacups. Garnish with strips of roasted red pepper, shredded basil leaves and whole, cooked peeled shrimp, if you wish. For a daintier garnish, use baby or salad shrimp.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 184,
  • Protein
  • 16.1 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 12.1 g,
  • Fat
  • 7 g,
  • Fibre
  • 1.1 g,
  • Sodium
  • 361 mg.

Kick off your holiday feast with a silky seafood soup. It’s not tricky to make and actually improves in flavour if made at least a day ahead. Serve in your prettiest bowls at the table or in your prized teacups in the living room before the call to the dinner table.


For a hint of licorice, use Pernod or pastis instead of port or marsala. Its mild flavour complements seafood dishes. If clam juice is not available, substitute a 10-ounce (284-mL) can undiluted chicken broth and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) anchovy paste for each bottle.

Creamy garnish

A little bit of cream goes a long way in dressing up most soups. For a creamy garnish, whip cream and stir in chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, tarragon or dill, sliced green onions or a little finely grated lemon, lime or orange peel. Dollop on top of soup just before serving. For an extra kick, stir in hot chili-garlic sauce or a few drops of Tabasco sauce. For another quick garnish fix, try sprinkling a few seasoned croutons over each bowl of soup.