REAL FOOD 101: How to Make Shellfish Stock

(To buy the REAL FOOD 101 E-book: Traditional Foods, Traditionally Prepared, click here.  Full color photos, step by step tutorials, and more.  Only $14.)

Also, this is yet another recipe for homemade broth, which is perfect timing for the readers participating in the GAPS Challenge.

When I found shrimp on sale a few weeks ago I was pretty excited because they were not peeled or de-veined yet.  What?!  I know that it is a little bit cumbersome to peel and de-vein shrimp, but it is worth it to have the shells leftover from peeling so you can make a flavorful shrimp stock.  I like to have shrimp stock around for making seafood soups and stews, or maybe even a flavorful risotto or reduction sauce.

And of course, you can also use lobster shells, or other shellfish shells to make this stock.  Using fresh shellfish tastes far superior to any fish stocks that you can purchase at the store.

Shrimp is one of the foods that I now enjoy without any guilt.  I used to believe that cholesterol was bad for me, because it would cause me to have high cholesterol which would then turn into heart disease.  Did you know that high cholesterol is not associated with heart disease?  And that people with high cholesterol live longer than people with low cholesterol?

I always ignored the fact that I knew on some level that I am meant to eat these foods that my ancestors ate.  How does it make sense that we should eat no fat when it naturally occurs in so many places?  Or that we should avoid shellfish, which is rich in cholesterol, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, and protein?  I am glad to have ditched the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet that made me sick.  Bring on the traditional fats and cholesterol!

As you peel and de-vein your next pound of shrimp from the store or shore, save all those little shrimp shells and then get to work making a flavorful stock that doesn’t need to simmer nearly as long as beef stock or chicken stock.  Plus, you will feel quite fancy as you put away your shellfish stock to make a lovely bisque.

Equipment needed:

In this recipe, you do not really need to fuss with a whole lot.  Just throw all the veggies and herbs into the slow cooker with the shellfish shells and good filtered water.  You do not need to peel or cut the vegetables, since they will be strained out at the finish.  The result will be something that you did not think would be so delicious, considering how easy it was to make.

Shellfish Stock

3-5 cups shrimp, crab, or lobster shells (buy quality seafood here)
1 onion, whole
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon dried parsley (buy dried herbs here)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (buy dried herbs here)
2 bay leaves (buy dried herbs here)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns (buy spices here)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine

  1. In a large stockpot, French oven, or slow cooker, place the shellfish shells into the bottom in an even layer.  Then add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, tomato paste, and white wine.  Fill the rest of the pot with water, up to about 2 inches below the rim.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least an hour, and up to 4 hours.  Alternately, use a slow cooker by simply turning it on high and letting simmer for 1-4 hours.
  3. Then put the strainer over a large bowl and strain all the shrimp, vegetables, and herbs out of the stock.  Pour finished stock into glass jars for storage.

This post is a part of Sunday School, Weekend Gourmet, Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, The Mommy Club, Healthy2day Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, and Sunday Night Soup Night.

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  1. I’m lucky where I live in that I can buy “zipper back” shrimp. The shells have been slit and the veins removed but the shell is still on.

  2. Can I not use the tomato paste? I want to make a clear soup. Also, can I use mussel shells?

  3. Hi Kendahl, I’ve never thought to make shellfish stock but what a great idea! It adds a whole new set of nutrients into broth. I’d love you to share this with Sunday Night Soup Night this Sunday!

  4. Yummo! I used to make this for a shrimp bisque but totally forgot about it. I see a scallop and saffron soup in my near future. Thanks!

    • Um, yum! I really need to make some kind of bisque. I always see Elaine from the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode in my brain when I say bisque though…

  5. Josefina says:

    I’d love to make this. Although I probably wouldn’t use wine, I’m wondering how much your recipe calls for. It says 1/2 wine–cup or bottle? I notice there is no water called for, so perhaps half a bottle? I wonder if this would taste good still with water instead, with a little vinegar added.

    • It’s supposed to be 1/2 cup, sorry about that!

      (And all new comments automatically go to moderation; from now yours will just post since I approved your email address.)

  6. There is such a small amount of liquid in this recipe! How much stock do you end up with?

    Thank you! I’m starting GAPS intro next week…. nervous!!!

  7. I’m confused by the amount of liquid, too! Is it really just 1/4 cup tomato paste and 1/2 cup wine…and no other liquid? Or, is water to be added at some point? And if so, how much?

  8. i buy the shrimp with heads on and use the heads as well, and i found that adding a bit of fresh fennel to all the rest of the veggies and a couple of sundried tomatoes instead of the tomato paste you use adds an amazing flavor


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