Corn and Shrimp Bisque is a creamy, hearty bisque with the sweet flavors of fresh corn paired with succulent Gulf Shrimp. This bisque is perfect as a starter or appetizer but also hearty enough to serve as an entree. With a foundation built on a blond roux and the Trinity, distinct flavors transform in a stock made of corn and shrimp. The final creamy, shrimpy flavor is fused with a bit of heavy cream. Sweet Daddy D's Corn and Shrimp Bisque is easier to make than you think and the flavor payoff is off the charts.
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What makes this recipe so good?
South Lousiana loves soups, gumbos, and bisques, so Corn and Shrimp Bisque's popularity is a no-brainer. Sweet Corn is almost a staple in the area going back to the earliest settlers. Looking for a crop to replace wheat, immigrant farmers were taught to plant corn by indigenous people and it flourished until being edged out by rice as a top money crop. Fresh Gulf Shrimp are abundant and delicious and are a perfect match for the corn. When blended with popular South Louisiana seasonings like the Trinity, garlic, and Creole Seasoning, it's no wonder this is the bisque of choice by many locals. It's a great starter for any meal, but its creamy, hearty nature makes it a perfect entre, especially when paired with a nice green salad and some crunchy french bread.
Here’s What You Need
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
Note on Shrimp: This recipe is best using fresh shrimp. If you can find them with heads and shells, they can be used in making the stock for this recipe. If fresh shrimp aren't available to you, you can substitute frozen shrimp with little difference. You don't need large shrimp for this recipe. Small or medium shrimp are just right. Check out the Hints and Tips section below for more on sizing shrimp.
Note on the Corn: Again, fresh corn on the cob is my first choice. Cutting the fresh kernels off the cab, then scraping the corn milk off the cob provides a rich depth of flavor. It's also a bonus to use the scrapped cobs in making the stock for this recipe. However, if you don't have fresh corn on the cob available, canned or frozen corn wok just fine. Try to use at least a cup of canned cream sauce to add to canned or frozen corn to help replace the corn milk.
Note on the Stock: This recipe was developed using Corn and Shrimp Stock. I like to align the flavors of the main ingredients whenever possible. You can substitute Shrimp Stock, Vegetable Stock, or even Chicken Stock if that's available to you. Water could be used, but that's my last choice as it really doesn't add any flavor.
Here is some of the equipment I used in making this recipe:
Here’s What You Do
First…you have a beer. There seems to be a lot going on here, so preparation is important. Let's start by preparing the cook. Pop the cap off a beer and sip it while you read the recipe all the way through. Learn what ingredients and equipment you'll need and what you'll do with each. Think about the process and get your attack plan ready. You'll find some Tips along the way where we share some shortcuts and substitutes. It's really easier than it sounds if you start with the right preparations, that's mise en place.
Mise en place
Slice the kernels off the corn cobs into a bowl. Using the back end of your knife blade, scrape the corn cobs to press out as much corn milk as possible into the same bowl. Reserve the corn kernels and the cobs. (Check out the Hints and Tips section for info on substituting for the fresh corn as well as what the heck corn milk is).
Peel, devein, and rinse the shrimp in cold water. Reserve the shells and heads. Sprinkle the shrimp with Creole seasoning and set aside.
Note: The corn cobs and the shrimp shells can be used to make a delicious stock that is perfectly aligned with and fortifies the flavor profile of this recipe. Check out my recipe here for making the Corn and Shrimp Stock. If you don't have time to make your own stock, freeze the shells to use in the future. For ideas on substitutes for the Corn and Shrimp Stock, see the Hints and Tips (FAQs) below.
Chop the Trinity and place it in one prep bowl. Chop the garlic and place it in a separate prep bowl. To prepare the green onions, chop the green part and set it in one bowl, then finely chop the white part and set that in a separate bowl. Combine the Herb and Spice Blend in one prep bowl, then measure all the remaining ingredients. Make a stock using shrimp shells and corn cobs. Prior to adding it to the recipe, make sure the stock is warmed.
A Quick Look at Making Corn and Shrimp Stock
You can jump here for the complete, detailed recipe, but here's a quick glance at what's involved:
- In a stockpot, saute shrimp shells and heads in margarine over medium-high heat.
- Add vegetables (corn cobs, onion, celery, garlic, bouquet garni.)
- Cover in 3 quarts of cold water.
- Simmer, uncovered until reduced to about 8 cups.
- Strain and reserve.
- Check out the complete recipe here.
Start With a Blonde Roux
What happens in this step? This is where we build the first layer of flavor. A blond roux serves as a binder for the flavor base, but does not add significantly to the color. The Trinity and garlic are sweated and covered in the roux. Tomato paste provides some depth and a slight tartness and lots of color. The fresh corn, the Herb and Spice Blend, and a rich stock bring the whole thing together.
Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is bubbling, add the AP flour and stir constantly for about 3 minutes to make a blond roux.
To the roux, add the Trinity and saute until the vegetables have wilted and are completely covered in the roux. This will take about 10 minutes. Stir frequently so it does not brown.
Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, which only takes about 2 minutes.
Add tomato paste. Mix well and saute for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the Dutch oven.
To the veggies goes about half (1 cup) of the corn and corn milk plus about half of the Herb and Spice Blend. Stir to combine all the ingredients and continue to saute for 3 to 5 minutes.
Turn the heat up, then slowly add about ½ cup of the warmed stock to deglaze the Dutch oven.
When all the fond is mixed into the vegetable mixture, blend in the remaining stock. Bring the whole thing to a low boil, then cover the Dutch oven, and lower the heat to maintain a simmer for about 10 minutes.
Puree the existing stock
What happens in this step? Pureeing the bisque at ts point will produce a thick, cohesive base to which we will add the cream along with the shrimp and the remaining corn. The result is a thick, creamy bisque with distinctive shrimp and corn elements that is very pleasing to the mouth. Technically you could skip this step, but then you have a thinner bisque that's overly crowded with vegetables.
Remove the bisque to a blender (or food mill or immersion blender) and puree the stock and vegetable mixture.
Finish the Bisque in the Dutch oven
What happens in this step? Now we have a thick, creamy base. When shrimp and corn are added to this cohesive foundation, the characteristics of the recipe are highlighted.
Return the bisque to the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring it back to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the remaining corn with the corn milk, about ⅓ cup of the white parts of the green onion plus the remaining Herb and Spice Blend. Stir the pot well to combine all the ingredients.
Tip: The white part of a green onion is more oniony flavored than the green part (which has a mild onion flavor). Prepare the green onion by cutting across at the point where the white turns to green, then pull off any outer layers that are not perfect-looking. Rinse thoroughly. Slice the white part in half, length-wise, then roll it ¼ of the way around and slice again in half, lengthwise. This will leave you with 4 layered stips of onion which you can chop finely starting at one end. Discard the root end.
Return the Dutch oven to a heavy simmer, then lower the heat and to a mild simmer for 5 minutes
Tip: If you want to make this bisque in advance, you can stop here, let it cool, then place it in an air-tight, freezer-proof container or vacuum-sealed bag. This base can be held in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to complete the soup, defrost in the fridge overnight, then continue with the cream, shrimp and corn.
Increase the heat and stir in the heavy cream.
Bring it to a low simmer and continue for about 15 minutes, partially covered.
Add the shrimp a few at a time, stirring before adding more. Add the parsley. Return the Dutch oven to a simmer and continue for about 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir often.
Remove the Dutch oven from the heat, cover, and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes
Garnish with green onions, parsley, or chives. Serve with hot, crispy french bread.
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Hints and Tips (FAQs)
A bisque is a thick and creamy type of soup that usually features some sort of shellfish. Examples of bisques predate 17th Century France although the origin is subject to some debate. In South Louisiana, it's common for bisque to be cream-based and feature shellfish like crawfish, crab, oyster, or shrimp along with regional vegetables like corn, mirliton, or artichoke. But, let's not limit the definition because a bisque in South Louisiana is whatever the cook says it is!
Comparatively, soups are generally thinner with no cream, while gumbo is typically a roux-based composite with one or more proteins. Usually, gumbo has a dark roux, but not every time, and can be thick or thin, often reflecting regional variations in South Louisiana cuisines.
This is one recipe that small or medium shrimp are perfect. You can use large shrimp if you prefer, but small work well. Check out my article here to read more about sizing shrimp. Look for something in the range of 51/60s or 41/50s.
Corn milk is that white liquid derived from scraping or cutting the kernels off of a corn cob. It is a naturally sweet, starchy liquid that adds flavor and texture to any dish to which it is added.
Substitutes for butter include vegetable oil, margarine, or bacon grease. You can use frozen or canned corn in place of fresh. If using canned, make sure to drain the can and use 1 can of whole corn plus 1 can of creamed corn. For the stock, you can substitute shrimp stock, chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water (as a last resort). You can substitute crawfish or crab meat for the shrimp, but make sure to match your stock to the protein. White meat chicken can be shredded into this recipe in place of the shrimp, but use chicken stock with that combination.
Leftover Corn and Shrimp Bisque can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days if held in an airtight container. It can also be kept in a 0-degrees freezer for up to 6 months if stored in an airtight container. You can use a vacuum freezer bag for this. One concern when freezing this cream-based bisque is the tendency for the cream to separate. When preparing to refrigerate or freeze, let the bisque cool down completely before placing it in an airtight container.
You can reheat this bisque on the stove or microwave. If it's frozen, defrost slowly in the fridge overnight before reheating. Place the defrosted bisque in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Bring it to a slight simmer and stir regularly until the bisque is warmed all the way through. If using a microwave do so in short intervals; microwave on high for about 20-30 seconds, then stir and go another 20 seconds or so until warmed all the way through. Regardless of how you reheat the bisque, take your time and reheat it slowly. If you are too aggressive with the heat, the shrimp will have a tendency to cook further and get hard and rubbery.
Try these popular Bisques and Gumbo from Sweet Daddy D:
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Corn and Shrimp Bisque
Here's What You Need
- 1 ½ pound shrimp
- 2 cups fresh corn in all, with milk (See Notes)
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup AP flour
- 1 cups yellow onions
- ½ cup green bell pepper
- ½ cup celery
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons garlic
- 4 cups Corn and Shrimp Stock
- 2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup green onions-green part
- ⅓ cup green onion-white part
Herb and Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning plus some for the shrimp
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon thymes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne optional
Here's What You Do
- Slice the kernels and corn milk from corn cobs, reserve cobs.
- Peel, devein and rinse shrimp, reserve shells.
- Sprinkle shrimp with Creole seasoning and set aside.
- Make a stock using shrimp shells and corn cobs. See Notes
- Prepare all remaining ingredients.
For the Bisque
- Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the AP flour. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes to make a blond roux.
- Add the yellow onions, celery, and bell pepper and saute for about 10 minutes until wilted, Stir frequently so it does not brown.
- Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste. Mix well and saute for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 1 cup of corn, the corn milk and about half of the Herb and Spice Blend. Stir to blend completely and continue to saute 3 to 5 minutes.
- Slowly add about ½ cup of the warmed stock. Stir to deglaze the Dutch oven, mixing the fond into the stock.
- Add the remaining stock and combine all ingredients. Bring the Dutch oven to a low boil, then lower the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes, covered.
- Remove the bisque to a blender (or food mill or immersion blender) and puree.
- Return the pureed bisque to the Dutch oven and bring to simmer over medium-high heat.
- Add the remaining corn and the corn milk, about ⅓ cup of green onion white part, and the remaining Herb and Spice Blend. Stir to combine.
- Return the Dutch oven to a slight boil, then lower the heat and to a simmer for 5 minutes
- Increase the heat and add the heavy cream. Stir until the Dutch oven returns to a simmer and continue for about 15 minutes, partially covered.
- Add the shrimp a few at a time. Add the parsley. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir often.
- Remove from heat and let it sit about 5-10 minutes
- Garnish with green onions, parsley or chives