Rachel Allen shares her recipe for a beautiful prawn bisque


  • 25 g (1oz) butter
  • 150 g (5oz) shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 450 g (1lb) heads, claws and tail shells from langoustines/dublin bay prawns or small prawns/shrimps
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes or 800g (13/4lb) ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 400 ml (14fl oz) fish or light chicken stock
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 200 ml (7fl oz) double or regular cream
  • 2 tblsp brandy (optional but enriches the flavour)
  • 1 tblsp chopped parsley
  • For the garlic mayonnaise croutons:
  • 75 g (3oz) mayonnaise
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated
  • 12 slices of baguette


  • Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat, and when it is foaming, add the shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cover the pan with a lid, then reduce the heat to low and gently sweat the shallots for 7–8 minutes.
  • While the shallots are cooking, use a rolling pin to crush and bash the langoustine/prawn heads and shells to smaller pieces. They don’t need to be too small but the more you break them up, the more flavour you’ll extract.
  • Once the shallots have softened, add the crushed langoustine/prawn heads and shells to the pan. Turn up the heat to medium and cook, uncovered and stirring regularly, for 6–8 minutes or until you can smell the shells beginning to toast and see them turning light golden in colour.
  • Add the tomatoes, stock and sugar and cook over a high heat for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened completely. Pour into a blender or food processor and whiz for a few minutes to break the shells.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the croutons. Mix the mayonnaise and garlic in a bowl and toast the bread on both sides.
  • Pour the puréed langoustine/prawn shell mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan and place on a medium heat. Add the cream and brandy (if using), season with salt and pepper to taste and cook the bisque gently to heat through. (You may need to add a pinch more sugar if using tinned tomatoes.) Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately with pieces of toast spread with the garlic mayonnaise spread.

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