So my plan WAS to pitch this as your next must-make cozy winter meal.
But Mother Nature is screwing that up! This warm streak of weather has been L-O-V-E-L-Y but so unexpected.
I’m still down for soup and sweater weather, but I think I may be alone. People are eating up this spring-like weather like crazy. Not that I blame them. I just wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to cozy time. Also, side bar: I kind of think it means our world is ending. I know. I’m cray.
The good (bad?) news is that I don’t think we’re quite in the clear yet. Mother Nature is a….mother. She is fickle. I fear we still have some cold days and nights in our future.
Let’s just ignore the weather for a moment so I can get back to my original point: this bisque is incredible and should happen in your life ASAP. Plus, it all happens in a slow cooker or crock pot, which makes it totally appropriate for warmer weather. It will keep your kitchen nice and cool.
My slow cooker takes things a step further and allows for me to saute veggies right in the slow cooker itself, rather than turning on the stove and dirtying another pan.
It is LIFE CHANGING. Seriously. I have been cooking with it nonstop since buying it earlier this year, way more than I normally used my slow cooker in the past. The sear/saute option changes the whole crock pot game.
Dan and I are huge fans of seafood bisque. In fact, if a variation of seafood bisque is on a menu, we almost always order it. Even if it doesn’t “go” with the rest of our meal. It’s just a special sort of dish to us, especially since I rarely take the time to make it at home. That’s one of my rules when ordering out: try to eat as much stuff off the menu that I’m not ambitious enough to try in my own kitchen. It works out well 99% of the time.
The thing is, seafood bisque, when done right, can take some extra love and labor. It often involves boiling crustacean shells to infuse your stock. Lots of straining and heating and reheating. I usually don’t have time for that.
My solution? Use really, really good, fresh seafood and store bought seafood stock. Seriously. People will never know the difference, as long as the seafood you’re using is fresh.
For this particular bisque, I went with shrimp and crab, two of our favorites. The shrimp are affordable and easy to find, and the crab…well…that’s the indulgent part of this dish. Jumbo lump crab costs a pretty penny, but I find that a little goes a long way. Plus, people just get EXCITED when lump crab shows up in their bisque. And who can blame them? It is a very special ingredient that is definitely worth the price point.
It makes this bisque something special, too. The bisque itself is fairly straightforward. Veggies, stock, aromatics simmering away for a few hours (oh, and let’s not forget the sherry. VERY important). Shrimp and some of the crab are added in and poached until just tender and perfect. Then comes the rest of the crab. In cold salad form!
OK, so I know it sounds kind of weird to top a hot, rich, creamy soup with a cold crab salad, but this is one of those weird things that you’re just going to have to trust me on. It works, people. It just does. The crab is lightly (key word!) dressed in a mixture of mayo, mustards, lemon, and herbs and added to each bowl of soup just before serving. It adds a fun and slightly tangy twist to the dish. Plus it’s gorgeous!
It adds a slightly different, weird-in-a-good-way twist on a fairly traditional seafood bisque, and now that I’ve gone weird, I don’t know that I can ever go back.
In fact, it pairs perfectly with this super weird weather we’re having.
Oh, and icy cold white wine and crunchy baguette toasts. Just sayin’.Print
Slow-Cooker Shrimp & Crab Bisque
- Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
For the Bisque:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (can add more, to taste)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry sherry or marsala wine
- 4 cups seafood or fish stock
- 1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
- 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1 cup jumbo lump crab meat
- Fresh parsley and lemon wedges, for serving
- Toasted bread or croutons, for serving
For the Crab Salad Topping (optional but recommended!):
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup jumbo lump crab meat
- Salt, to taste
For the Bisque:
If your crock pot has a stovetop/sear setting, you can make this entire recipe in the crock pot. If not, start it in a skillet on the stove for steps 1-3 and transfer to the crock pot before step 4.
- Set the crock pot to stovetop/sear setting (alternatively, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stove). Add the oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add the leeks, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until the leeks are tender. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute or until it is melted and coating the leeks.
- Pour in the wine and cook for a few minutes or until it is reduced by half. If using a skillet, it is at this point that you want to transfer the leek mixture to your crock pot. Be sure to get any residual juices in the skillet into the crock pot.
- Add in the stock, tomatoes, Old Bay seasoning, and sugar, stirring well to combine.
- In a mixing cup, whisk together the water and flour until smooth. Stir into the soup mixture. Add in the salt and pepper.
- Cover the crock pot and set it on HIGH for 2 hours (or on LOW for 4 hours).
- After it has cooked for the allotted time, taste the bisque base for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Stir in the shrimp, crab, cream, and parsley and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
For the Crab Salad Topping:
- While the bisque is finishing up, make the crab topping by combining the lemon juice, mayo, mustards, and parsley in a mixing bowl.
- Gently fold in the crab meat, being careful to not break it up too much. Season, to taste, with salt. Keep chilled until you are ready to serve.
Ladle the bisque into serving bowls and top with some of the cold crab salad. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired, and serve while hot with toasted bread or croutons.
- The crab salad topping is a special touch that is completely optional. The bisque itself is great without it. I love adding the cold crab salad on top for a touch of elegance and a texture/temperature contrast. Again, it is totally optional!
- I highly recommend using sherry or marsala in this recipe. A dry white wine may be used, but the flavor will be somewhat different. The fortified sweetness of sherry/marsala works really well with the seafood and other savory flavors here.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Category: soup
Keywords: Slow-Cooker Shrimp & Crab Bisque, slow-cooker seafood bisque, slow-cooker shrimp bisque, slow-cooker crab bisque, crock pot seafood bisque
Aimee Mars says
Warm, cold, or mild I’d happily eat this shrimp bisque any day of the year! She Crab Soup is a thing where I live (in Charleston, SC) and it’s served year-round so I feel like this one could be too. It looks great.
Thanks so much, Aimee! I totally agree. Also, She Crab Soup is something I need to try!
Danielle S says
I never comment on recipes, but had to tell you that this is AMAZING! My daughter is allergic to dairy, so I used coconut milk instead, and it is still good. In fact, my picky two year old and four year old both loved it. Also you were right about the cold crab salad on top. Perfect.
Aww, thanks so much for the comment, Danielle! It means the world to me. I’m so glad you and the kids enjoyed this!
I skipped the sauce for the crab topping but made the bisque in my crock pot today. It was delicious! I used an assortment of seafood (cod, salmon, shrimp, etc) and made a fish broth beforehand. My husband absolutely loved this bisque as well. It is a nice, light meal for a cold day! Can’t wait to make it again! Thanks so much for sharing!
So glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks, Heather!
This was really good. When the broth was done I pureed it with an immersion blender added the shrimp & finished with fat free half & half. I used the leftovers for a sauce for lobster ravioli. It was delicious. I will definitely be making this again.
Thanks, Tara! I’m so glad you enjoyed this!
The recipe says to stir in the crab but then says to make the cold crab topper. Just the shrimp should cook in the soup, right?
There is crab in both the soup and the topper!
this slow-cooker-shrimp carb bisque looks very attractive to the eyes,I love the yellow colour broth and it seems ti goes very well with baked bread.great dish for lunch or dinner
Anna Boxenwood says
Would be even more awesome if you could not make folks dig for the recipe.
Nice pics and a great story but really am interested in the recipe.
Thanks for the feedback. This is, however, a food blog, not just a recipe database. That’s the way I choose to present the recipes. Hope you enjoy the soup!
I like to go right to the recipe to see if I have the ingredients and then read the backstory. Just hit Control + F for find and type cup or teaspoon or some other recipe word in the little box. Scroll and find the highlighting.
There is also a “Jump to Recipe” button at the very top of the post that will take you straight to the recipe, if you prefer.
I made this without the leeks simply because I forgot them at the store. Even still, it was delicious! Thanks for the recipe.
So glad to hear this! Thanks, Shayla!
Help! I’d like to take this to work tomorrow for soup day. However since it yields for 8, I thought I’d double the recipe. But now I’m concerned if it will fit in my slow cooker. What size (in quarts) is needed for a single batch? My crock pot is only 6 qts.
Can u pan grill the shrimp before putting it in the mixture?
Hi Angela! I don’t see why not!
Can you use almond milk instead of cream? This would be a great dish for Christmas Eve seven fish dinner.
Hi Noreen. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never tried this recipe with almond milk. I do worry that it won’t have the same thickness/richness that the cream adds here.
I agree with Sharon, I used Brandy and had to transfer it from the crockpot to a soup pot to boil it on the stove to cook off the brandy as just cooking in the crockpot wasn’t cooking off the high Brandy flavor. Tasted good after I did that though.
I’m a little sad, this recipe looked so awesome and I gave a go this weekend and honestly, it wasn’t very good. I adhered super strict to the directions, the only thing I did different was use imitation crab instead of jumbo lump (I had to buy nearly everything for this recipe and it was kind of costly already) and cajun seasoning in place of the old bay seasoning because my grocery store didn’t sell it. My store also didn’t sell seafood stock, so I used fish stock instead. But even these small changes shouldn’t have made such a big difference in the recipe.
I don’t know what it was but it came out super acidic, like it had this strong tang that every time I took a sip of the soup it was impossible to not twist my face. I did want it a little spicy so I didn’t mind that I made it a little hot with the extra pepper flakes and cajun seasoning, but eating this was literally discomforting. When I think of a bisque I think of something thick and creamy with a nice tang of sweetness mixed with some spice to it. This was anything but that. It was acidic and watery and unpleasant to eat.
My only guess is possibly the leeks? I felt like 2 cut up leaks was A LOT, like a huge majority of the soup just felt like it was made up of leeks more than anything else.
The crab salad topping was very good, but just drizzling this over the remaining crab and eating the crab alone felt silly and like a missed opportunity. I wish I had bought some kale and put the crab inside and used the topper as dressing to make an actual salad.
Glad everyone else’s came out fine, but hopefully I can find another shrimp crab bisque recipe to try where it comes out better.
Not sure how this soup is yellow? Mine was red and green from the leeks and tomatoes. However, it tastes beautiful! I’ll definitely make this again.
I do not want to give this a bad rating, as I am certain I am the one who messed up. This was, hands down, the SALTIEST thing I have EVER tried. Think: swallowed a gallon of wave while playing at the beach salty. We had a hard time finding “fish sauce” at our Publix in Orlando. The woman stocking shelves suggested we use Coco Aminos as a substitute. Four cups of fish sauce seemed like A LOT, but I am no chef, so we powered through. Fast forward to me realizing I had forgotten to pick up the tomato paste, and seeing actual fish sauce on the same aisle, (of a different store). Four cups still seemed excessive, but who am I…
Followed all other instructions to a few. It smelled delicious. Taste tested just before the shrimp, and OMG. Salt BOMB. Tried again after cream and crab additions, and somehow it got saltier!!
Please tell me four cups is wrong. Where did we go wrong? Bummed to have thrown away $25 worth of crab, (not to mention a whole lot of fish sauce).
Hi Linda. The recipe calls for four cups of FISH STOCK not fish sauce. Another name for it is seafood stock/broth. Yes, I imagine it tasted pretty awful with that much fish sauce in it.
Even with the fish stock my soup came out very fishy and almost uneatable, but I had to google how to change the flavor of a fishy soup and the answer was LEMON! I added at least 2 tablespoons if not more to combat the over powering fish taste. Then it was perfect!
I wonder if this had to do with the type/brand of stock you used? I have made this recipe countless times using a standard seafood stock from the store without it tasting fishy. Also, the quality of seafood matters! Make sure you’re using good quality shrimp and LUMP crab for this recipe – it makes a huge flavor difference. That said, I love lemon and think it’s great squeezed over top of this just before eating.
I made this for a co-worker luncheon. One of my co-workers cried when she tasted this soup. CRIED!! Yes people, it’s that good. Heaven!
Wow! Now THAT’S a great reaction! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
This came out wonderfully. I prepped it this past weekend to have for easy dinners this week and not only does it look just like the pictures (not sure what other people are referencing about the red color – as soon as I added the half-and-half, it lightened to a yellow-orange creamy color like the pictures here show), it tasted even better! I did the crab topping for the first few servings and then we ran out – the soup is still great without it! Definitely making again! Thank you!
Deborah U. says
I made this for my family for Christmas Eve as part of the 7 fishes feast, and this was the highlight of the entire meal! I thought the crab topping was so creative and interesting, and I think it feels very fancy when you serve it (perfect for a holiday meal). The soup itself was delicious – I have no idea how other people had such a bad result? This tasted wonderful to my whole family. I did use sherry in mine, and I think that might be the key. Also, if things are too acidic for your taste (as some people have noted), you should adjust the seasonings. Add a touch of sugar, adjust the seasoning as you see fit…this is what cooking is all about. Taking a recipe as a guide and tailoring it to your tastes. For us, this was a stellar recipe and we’ll be making it for years to come. A new family Christmas eve tradition.
I totally agree! The recipe directions even state “taste and adjust the seasoning” …I feel awful for recipe writers who take the time to write out these detailed instructions and encourage people to adjust as needed…and no one listens and then they complain that the recipe didn’t work. Cooking is a TO TASTE experience! I loved this soup and will make again.
Amazing recipe. Tasted so fresh despite being made in a slow cooker. The crab topping is delicious but not necessary. The soup is still great without it. Will make again and again.
I made this for Christmas Eve as part of our seven fishes tradition, and it was the hit of the night! I think the crab topping is absolutely necessary for a special event, but the soup on its own without the topping is still amazing. We were so happy to have a little left over the next day. SO good and will be making every Christmas Eve from here on!
It tastes AMAZING! I followed your recipe. Thank you!
James Palmer says
Holy cow. Ho. Lee. Cow. This is delicious! I don’t typically comment on recipes, but this was absolutely terrific! It requires a bit of effort if you don’t often shop for leeks, fish stock, sherry or marsala wine (we used sherry) etc., plus preparing the leeks. I’m sure glad I made the effort. I prepared this twice, exactly according to the recipe, using half-and-half one time and heavy cream the next. Both were great, but I suggest using heavy cream as it tasted slightly better and was slightly thicker. That might be the only thing I tweak next time: trying to reduce a little more or add a little something to thicken it just slightly more. The cold crab topping was excellent as well. We didn’t serve with croutons, but served a toasted, crusty bread on the side…good for dipping in the soup and cleaning every last drop from the bowl. Oh, yeah! Hyperbole aside, if I was served this in a restaurant, I would be very happy with it, feel like I got my money’s worth, and would tell everyone to order it. It was that good. I will make it again, and I won’t wait until it gets cold outside. I’d eat this anytime! Thanks!