Lobster bisque

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Lobster bisque is a soup recipe that is not cheap, but it is well worth the effort and cost. Bisque is a smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth of crustaceans. It can be made from lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish. Bisque is a method of extracting flavor from imperfect crustaceans not good enough to send to market. In an authentic bisque, the shells are ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup. Valentines day for 2 or New Years Supper, this bisque is never out of place and so mild on the seafood taste that even the most difficult guest will be very pleasantly surprised.

Ingredients:

450 g cooked lobster

45 gbutter

1 small carrot, grated

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1 leek, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 shallots, finely chopped

3 tbsp brandy or Cognac

55 ml dry white wine

1.2 litres water

1 tbsp tomato purée

125 ml whipping cream, or to taste

6 tbsp plain flour

2-3 tbsp cold water

salt and pepper

snipped fresh chives, to garnish

lobster bisque

Preparation:

Pull off the lobster tail. With the legs up, cut the body in half lengthways. Scoop out the tomalley (the soft pale greenish-grey part) and, if it is a female, the roe (the solid red-orange part). Reserve these together, covered and refrigerated. Remove the meat and cut into bite-sized pieces; cover and refrigerate. Chop the shell into large pieces.

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the lobster shell pieces. Fry until brown bits begin to stick on the bottom of the pan. Add the carrot, celery, leek, onion and shallots. Cook, stirring, for 1½ – 2 minutes. Do not allow to burn. Add the brandy and wine and simmer for 1 minute. Pour over the water, add the tomato purée, a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, simmer for 30 minutes and strain the stock through a muslin-lined sieve, discarding the solids.

Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan and add the tomalley and roe, if any. Add the cream, whisk to mix well, remove from the heat and set aside. Put the flour in a small mixing bowl and very slowly whisk in the water. Stir in a little of the hot stock mixture to make a smooth liquid.

Bring the remaining lobster stock to the boil and whisk in the flour mixture. Boil gently for 4-5 minutes, or until the soup thickens. Press the tomalley, roe and cream mixture through a sieve into the soup. Reheat gently. Ladle your lobster bisque into warmed bowls, garnish with chives and serve immediately.