Friday, March 10, 2017

Mexican Shrimp Soup - Caldo De Camarón

Mexican Shrimp Soup Recipe, step by step instructions with photos of the process.

There are a multitude of ways shrimp soup is made in Mexico, and each region can have its own recipes. In the Huasteca region, for example, there is a version where corn dough is diluted in water and added to the soup to form a slightly thick soup, called Huatape (I grew up eating it this way, as my mother is from that region of the country). Another version that is popular in the coastal area of Veracruz is prepared with a broth seasoned with dried peppers that has dried or fresh shrimps, but no vegetables.

The version most common throughout the country is the one that uses fresh shrimp (shells on or removed), carrots, potatoes, and a tomato flavored broth. As I’ve mentioned in many recipes before, nothing is written in stone, and each cook adapts the recipe to the products they have on hand in their region.

Growing up, I always thought that everyone ate their shrimp soup with corn masa, because that’s the way my mom made it, but when visiting friends and classmates at their houses (usually around lunchtime), I learned that there were other ways to prepare shrimp soup. In fact, my mother would get upset with me because, from a very young age, I liked to get myself invited to other people’s houses for lunch. She would tell me that people would think that she didn’t feed me well, or that we didn’t have food in our house! In reality, what lured me to do that was my curiosity about how other people cooked. I wanted to see why their food tasted different than my mom’s usual cooking. What spices and herbs, or techniques, did they use differently? The term “foodie” did not exist back then, so I guess I thought of myself as a very young gourmand.

I hope you enjoy this soup, the mixture of flavors is exquisite!


For the shrimp broth:

  • Peels (shells) from 1 lb. of raw shrimp
  • ¼ of a medium size white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups of water

For the soup:

  • 1 Lb. of plum tomatoes (about 4)
  • ¼ of a medium size white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1¼ cup of peeled & diced carrots
  • 1¼ cup of peeled & diced potatoes
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper (optional)
  • 4 large Epazote leaves*
  • 1 Lb. of raw shrimp, peels removed (use peels to make the broth)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime wedges to serve


  • In case you don’t find the Epazote herb, just skip it. But, you can use fresh cilantro to add another type of aroma. You can also buy it online in dried form.
  • Not everyone roasts the tomatoes, garlic, and onion for this soup.  (Just in case you don't want to roast them)


Mexican Shrimp Soup Recipe, step by step instructions with photos of the process.

1. Place shrimp peels, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a saucepan with the 5 cups of water.  Turn on the heat to medium-high. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to simmer for about 6-8 minutes, then set aside.

2. While the broth is simmering, place the tomatoes, onion, and garlic on a hot griddle to roast. Turn from time to time to have an even roasting. This step will take about 8 minutes. Remove the garlic promptly, since it takes less time to roast; if you leave it too long it will burn and have a bitter taste.

3. Once the tomatoes, onion, and garlic are ready, place into a blender along with the chipotle peppers (if using). Process until you have a fine pure. If needed, chop the tomatoes to avoid having big chunks in the salsa before placing in the blender. 

Mexican Shrimp Soup Recipe, step by step instructions with photos of the process.

4. In a medium size pot, heat the oil at medium temperature, add the carrots, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then, stir in the potatoes and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring often to keep them from sticking to the pan.

5. Pour in the tomato sauce using a strainer, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Then, using a strainer add the shrimp broth, stir in the shrimp and gently simmer for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. The shrimp will be a light orange color but still look firm; do not overcook or the shrimp will have a rubbery texture. Add the epazote and cook for 2 more minutes, then season with fresh ground pepper and salt. Serve immediately.

Mexican Shrimp Soup Recipe, step by step instructions with photos of the process.

 Serve with warm corn tortillas and some lime wedges to add some drops of the juice to the soup.

Mely Martínez

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  1. Do we make the broth with 4 or 5 cups of water?

  2. Looks delicious- there doesn't seem to be much typical 'Mexican seasoning' in this recipe (i.e. chile peppers, etc).

    1. Hello Fran,

      Actually, many people do not add peppers to this soup. And, "typical" Mexican food, I mean everyday homemade food, doesn't have always peppers, we usually serve a salsa for those that want to add it to the meal. There is a big misconception about mexican food, indicating that it is spicy or that uses peppers in all our meals. We actually do not eat that way in our everyday lives.
      Thank you for your kind comment and for stopping by!
      Happy cooking!

  3. I'm making this for myself! This looks so good!

    1. Hello Tifferella,
      Thank you for stopping by, long time no see. Nice to hear from you and happy cooking!

  4. Hi Mely,

    Do I strain out everything of the broth before combining with the rest of the ingredients? I didn't see that in the instructions. (I assume I do, since there shells in there).


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