Black History Month recipe a day: shrimp bisque

February 7, 2024

Do you know ? All of New Orleans in the first early decades of the 20th century clamored for her to cater their parties. Women, white and black, lined up to get cooking tips from Richard, who began her career as a domestic. Her self-published cookbook was picked up by Houghton Mifflin. When Colonial Williamsburg needed a chef, they hired Richard, who got to know Rockefellers and foreign leaders. She even had a regular TV cooking show. Yet somehow this fabulous talent was forgotten for too many years.


Chef Dwynesha

Lena Richard’s Shrimp Bisque

Chef Dwynesha “Dee” Lavigne, a Black chef and culinary instructor born and raised in New Orleans, takes inspiration from Richard and her legacy. Lavigne adapted Richard’s celebrated shrimp bisque recipe for the modern kitchen. Find more recipes at .


  • 3 pounds large, head-on shrimp 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 3 tablespoons medium chopped onion 
  • 1 cup fresh chopped tomatoes (skinned and seeded) 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green bell pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 1 full sprig thyme 
  • 1 large bay leaf 
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley (save 1 tablespoon for garnish) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter 
  • 6 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs (additional 3 tablespoons for topping) 
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  • 2 teaspoons onion juice (see note) 
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


Wash the fresh raw shrimp thoroughly. Remove the heads of the shrimp, peel and devein saving the peels for later. Scoop out the heads, saving the scrapings to cook. Put the hollow shrimp heads in enough cold water just to cover them from drying out. Put the shrimp peels and scrapings from heads and two quarts of cold water into a small sauce pot to cook. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and strain, saving the shrimp stock.

Prepare the roux: Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot. Test the temperature by sprinkling a little flour into the oil. If the flour sizzles, the oil is ready. Once the oil is hot, add the remaining flour, stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat until the flour browns and the roux begins to smell nutty. Then add onions and cook until caramelized. Add tomatoes, let cook for about 5 minutes and then add in the stock 1 cup at a time, all the seasonings (bell pepper, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, cayenne pepper, white pepper), and half the amount of shrimp cut in small pieces. Reduce heat to medium-low. Let bisque simmer for about one hour.

Meanwhile, finely dice the remainder of the shrimp. Heat butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add diced shrimp, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, and onion juice to melted butter and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add 3/4 of the warm mixture to a food processor or blender until it is a fine paste. Leave the remainder of the stuffing in the pan to dry out and use as garnish to finish the bisque. Fill a pastry bag with the fine texture filling and stuff the shrimp heads. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet side by side, sprinkle the tops with additional breadcrumbs. Put the heads in the oven when the bisque is 90% done. Bake the heads in a 400-degree oven until brown. 

To complete the dish ladle bisque into soup bowls, sprinkle with crumble filling, 4 shrimp heads and chopped parsley. Serves 6.

Note: To make onion juice, squeeze a small piece of onion in a garlic press.

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