Caldo de Camarao – Shrimp & Vegetable Bisque


I learned this recipe for Caldo de Camarao, many years ago from a Portuguese Chef named Jose.

He was a great chef, with a wonderful soul, but like many chefs, he was quite temperamental in the kitchen!

Although the recipe is simple, it requires many steps in the preparation, but trust me it’s worth it.

My family likes it pretty hot and spicy so be sure to use the Piri Piri to your taste.

The broth is made from the Shrimp shells which gives this soup a rich flavor.

Please note that some people use a tomato based broth, but I don’t use them in my recipe.



2 pounds raw shrimp (30 to 40) per pound

1 large onion (chopped)

4 large carrots (peeled)

2 stacks of celery (peeled)

8 cups of water

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 shrimp bouillon cubes

2 tablespoons of butter

2 teaspoons of paprika

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of white pepper

1 to 2 teaspoons of Piri Piri or Tabasco sauce

½ cup of Vinho Verde or white wine

3 Portuguese rolls to make croutons for garnish

1/2 cup of cream (optional)

2 tablespoons of flour (optional)

Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish (optional)


Peel and devein the shrimp and save the shells. Rinse the shells and put the shrimp aside. 

In a large stock pot add the 8 cups of water, the shrimp shells, ½ of the onion, celery, carrots, salt, pepper, and the shrimp shells and cook for 30 minutes.

Strain the broth, and throw away the cooked shrimp shells. Put the carrots, onions and celery back into the broth.  

Puree the soup with a hand blender until the soup is creamy.  Strain the soup through a fine strainer to catch any shells, or vegetable threads.

Place the soup on stove on low heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, saute the remaining onion in the olive oil and butter until translucent.

Add the shrimp, the bouillon, wine, paprika, Piri Piri or Tabasco and cook for a few minutes. 

Remove ½ of the cooked shrimp and set aside.

Add the remaining shrimp and sauce to the soup pan and puree until you get a creamy consistency.

Cook soup for on low for 10 minutes.

Chop the reserved cooked shrimp into 2 pieces and add to the soup. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes.

Taste the soup and add more salt and white pepper to taste.

If you like a creamy style soup, make a slurry by mixing the cream and flour in a small bowl.

Temper the cream with a few tablespoons of the soup and add it during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Make the croutons:

Slice the Portuguese rolls into small ¼ inch slices.

Coat with butter and garlic. Toast in broiler until golden brown.

Sprinkle with desired seasonings and set aside for garnish.

Serve the soup in bowls with one slice of the toasted Portuguese croutons in the center.

Add a few pieces of shrimp in each bow. Add the cilantro or parsley as garnish if desired.


Always save your shrimp shells that you have left over from your recipes for this soup. Rinse the shells, pat dry and place them into freezer bags to make shrimp and seafood stock.

Serves 8-10

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