Prawn & fennel bisque

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 55 mins


Serves 8
A luxurious seafood soup that is rich in flavour, perfect for formal entertaining and low in calories too

Nutrition and extra info

  • Good for you
  • Easily doubled / halved

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal120
  • fat6g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs7g
  • sugars6g
  • fibre3g
  • protein7g
  • salt1.17g
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  • 450g raw tiger prawn in their shells
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1 large onion, chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 1 large fennel bulb, chopped, fronds reserved
    Fennel bulb

    Fennel bulb

    Like Marmite, fennel is something that you either love or hate - its strong aniseed flavour…

  • 2 carrot, chopped



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp brandy



    Brandy is a distilled spirit made from virtually any fermented fruit or starchy vegetable.…

  • 400g can chopped tomato
  • 1l fish stock
  • 2 generous pinches paprika



    A spice that's central to Hungarian cuisine, paprika is made by drying a particular type of…

To serve

  • 150ml pot double cream
  • 8 tiger prawn, shelled, but tail tips left on (optional)
  • fennel fronds (optional)


  1. Shell the prawns, then fry the shells in the oil in a large pan for about 5 mins. Add the onion, fennel and carrots and cook for about 10 mins until the veg start to soften. Pour in the wine and brandy, bubble hard for about 1 min to drive off the alcohol, then add the tomatoes, stock and paprika. Cover and simmer for 30 mins. Meanwhile, chop the prawns.

  2. Blitz the soup as finely as you can with a stick blender or food processor, then press through a sieve into a bowl. Spend a bit of time really working the mixture through the sieve as this will give the soup its velvety texture.

  3. Tip back into a clean pan, add the prawns and cook for 10 mins, then blitz again until smooth. You can make and chill this a day ahead or freeze it for 1 month. Thaw ovenight in the fridge. To serve, gently reheat in a pan with the cream. If garnishing, cook the 8 prawns in a little butter. Spoon into small bowls and top with the prawns and snipped fennel fronds.

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Comments (21)

andiet's picture

Delicious. Changed things slightly, instead of adding tinned tomatoes used a 200ml carton of sofrito (passage). Also added less stock so it wasn't too watery.

katherskitchen's picture

What a fantastic bisque recipe. Tastes amazing. Leave everything in (heads, tail shells, guts, the lot) for the blitzing stage (I saw from a few comments that some people had removed the shells first). I find the quickest way to sieve the blitzed soup is by rubbing it through a big round sieve with the back of a ladle. Only takes a couple of minutes using this method. All the bits clog together on the back of the ladle to be easily discarded. I also sieved mine again after adding the prawns in stage 3. I'll definitely be making this soup again...and again...

rodieyum's picture

This bisque is delicious.
I made it in advance, chilled it and then added the cream when reheating to serve.
The shells should absolutely be kept in - it's a bisque! The pressing through the sieve is a little time consuming but worth it to get that lovely smoothness. I sieved it twice.
I gave a 4 instead of 5 because although delicious, I felt that the flavour could have better reflected the ingredients, and next time will add more fennel (a bulb and a half) and a bigger pinch of paprika.
Only change I made to the recipe was to cook the decorative prawns in garlic butter and served them on little thin sourdough toasts next to the bisque.
It went down a storm and I will definitely cook again.

eugenia a.'s picture

Hello everybody and Happy New Year. I prepared this bisque for Christmas Eve and New Year dinner and everyone really loved it!
Thank you for the fantastic recipes you publish in your magazine.

niccybar's picture

Likewise, our third year we've made this - just came on-line to print the recipe out again (keep losing it) before I cook up a batch as the appetiser for tomorrow's large family pre-christmas christmas dinner. Yum.
Oh yes, and as has already been said..... KEEP THE SHELLS IN!

idewar's picture

This will be year 3 or 4 that I've made this for Christmas Day! It is GORGEOUS! Just looking up the recipe for this year and surprised at some of the comments and ratings. Of course you leave the shells in to blitz. That is the whole point of a bisque. I wouldn't say the sieving is hard work; it's just part of the joy of creating amazing food! I usually sieve twice too for an extra velvety texture. Please give this a try. It really is fantastic!

gilliyb's picture

I made this soup as a starter for Christmas dinner on the 25th. My guests raved about it and asked for seconds. I made it the day before and just reheated it slowly adding the cream. Great success.

aureliecjohnson's picture

Don't cut corners. I followed the recipe and some bore in mind some of the comments and mine turned out AMAZING! Best soup I have ever made and I am making it for Xmas Eve this year.

sarahfh's picture

Really didn't enjoy this. thought the flavour combinations just didn't work particularly well in this dish. Unfortunately disappointed.

tanyah's picture

I have made this 3 times but I am now letting the recipe go. As previously said you leave the shells in and blitz them and, yes, it is delicious but the work involved is totally out of proportion. Shelling the prawns and removing all the veins is hard enough but the sieving is SUCH hard work if you do it properly and really should be done twice for best effect. The flavour is fab but there are too many tasty recipes out there with a lot less effort. It is not appreciated because ultimately it is still 'just soup'.

jglencross's picture

Just a note to say that most of those who have already commented are misunderstanding the recipe. As with any shellfish bisque, the whole point is to blitz the shells along with everything else, then sieve them out. You don't take them out, you need them for their flavour. The sieving takes a while but the whole enterprise is worth it.

niccybar's picture

Made the soup for a New Year's Eve' mega-meal.

Utterly fantastic.

Really, really good.

As for the shells, I left them in and blitzed them up with the rest of the soup. I did this and sieved with a really fine sieve (took about half an hour to do both sievings). After sieving, I took the solids and pressed them inside muslin to extract all the liquor. Hard work, but well worth the effort.

I'll be making this again.

danni_s7000's picture

Just made this soup to freeze for our Christmas day starter and it was so good I had to have a bowl now! Extremely flavourful.
I only had 4 langustines with shells so to make up the rest with raw shelled tiger prawns. I added both the flesh and the shells of the langustine in the first part and left them in right through to the blending - I think this really added to the flavour. I did use three stock cubes to the litre mix, however the flavour in the finished product is very much of shell fish rather than the stock cubes. After blending the second time I did pass the bisque again as it wasn't quite ad smooth as I would like. I also added a little extra carrot but think I would recommend against this as my soup is a little redder than I'd like and has lost a little of the fennel flavour.

roseandjulius's picture

Just made this soup for the first time and it's turned out delicious. Regarding the prawn shells. I took them out of the pan before I put in the vegs. Then I placed them in a tied muslin and put them back in the pan whilst all the vegs were cooking so that they could continue to enrich the stock flavour. I added a little touch of chilli to the soup. Incidentally, just blending was sufficient and I didn't need to push it thru' a sieve. It was quite an easy soup to make.

cooijmans's picture

delicious , can be frozen too.

marguerite_caunt's picture

Didn't work for me at all. Too much effort for too little flavour. Got beautiful prawns, organic fennel and fish stock. But it turned out tasting like tomato soup without the flavour. I added a can of salmon and that helped. But it's just not worth the effort.

keith_burt's picture

I cooked this for our New Years Eve Party last night and it was fantastic. A smooth and rich soup. In answer the the prawn shells question - my partner misunderstood my instructions when she went to the supermarket and bought ready shelled prawns. So instead of the shells I added 5 prawns at the start of the process. This gave the soup the same intense flavour but also meant I could blitz all the ingediants together without having to fish out the shells.

richbreckell's picture

What was the consensus, remove the shells before blitzing?

tanyah's picture

Delicious rich flavour, quite a lot of effort putting it through the sieve but you really do get a lovely velvety texture

motheroftwoboys's picture

I am going to make this on Saturday but assumed you would take out the shells after the first 10 minutes and before adding the veg. otherwise when you "blitz" it all the prawn shells would be included.


Questions (1)

snosrap's picture

Love this soup and I have made it several times. I leave the shells in and blitz the lot. It is a bit of work pushing as much through the seive as possible but well worth it.
One question though, is it just the body shells you fry up or can you use the heads aswell?

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