Butternut Squash & Shrimp Bisque

March 23, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Kate Buckens. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

A shrimp stock fortified with the floral and smoky notes of dark Jamaican rum does much of the heavy lifting in elevating a simple fall bisque into something memorable and unexpected. Traditional aromatics—carrots, celery, and onions—are sweated with a deseeded Habanero pepper, which adds brilliant brightness. Thyme is the only herb employed, and its deep earthy-woodsy flavor rounds out some of the assertiveness of the Habanero. The creaminess of this bisque comes from full-fat coconut milk, which gently leans into the sweetness of the butternut squash. Finished with a splash more of dark rum, the ingredients—even those used in small quantities, like the lime zest—naturally cohere and confidently connect warm, autumnal notes with bright, upbeat Caribbean-inspired flavors. —Brigid Ransome Washington

What You'll Need
  • Stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound fresh, shell-on shrimp, shells and meat separated
  • 2 quarts water
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup dark Jamaican rum, such as Myers
  • 1 Vidalia onion, quartered
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Bisque
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup roughly chopped celery
  • 2 cups roughly chopped Vidalia onions
  • 2 cups roughly chopped carrots
  • 5 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped; plus 1 clove, finely minced
  • 1 Habanero chile, deveined and deseeded
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  1. Make the stock: In an ample stockpot over medium heat, add butter and shrimp shells. Toast the shells for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add water, thyme sprigs, rum, and the quartered onion. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and set aside the stock.
  2. While the stock is simmering, marinate the shrimp in the lime zest, Old Bay, salt, and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the bisque.
  3. Make the bisque: In a heavy-duty stockpot over medium heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Sauté celery, onions, and carrots for 5 minutes, then add garlic, Habanero, thyme leaves, and butternut squash. Season with salt, pepper, and Old Bay and allow the vegetables to cook for approximately 20 minutes.
  4. Next, add all of the prepared shrimp stock. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, pulverize until the bisque is smooth without any lumps. Add coconut milk and the final splash of dark rum. Reduce heat to low and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook the shrimp: In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the 2 teaspoons butter and the one clove of minced garlic. Sauté the shrimp for roughly 3 minutes. (They should be pink with a distinctiveness crisp when bitten into.)
  6. To serve, place the shrimp in bowls and ladle the bisque over. Eat immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Relish
  • Mari
  • Susieray

3 Reviews

Mari May 19, 2022
Absolutely love this bisque — it's on a constant rotation in my house. Some recipe notes:
1. 20 min prep is a joke. That's how long it takes to peel and devein the shrimp.
2. The first time I made this, I marinated the shrimp for the called-for time and it more than cooked all the way through in the lime juice. Now, I use half the zest it calls for and only marinate for 5 min (10 min tops).
3. Tip - buy the frozen butternut squash in your grocery store and save time there. I'll put it in the microwave for a bit before the soup.
4. More shrimp, more shrimp! I like to do 1 lb of shrimp with shells on for the stock, and then buy some peeled and deveined shrimp with no shells to add in. Trader Joe's is my favorite place for that.
Susieray October 20, 2020
I made this recipe with delicata squash and Alaskan King Crab. It was delicious. I would definitely recommend it.
Relish February 2, 2020
This recipe takes a little bit of effort and more time than listed, but amazing! So delicious and deeply flavored. A winner.