This lobster bisque recipe is a dream: rich, creamy and decadent. And it is wicked easy to make at home. Make it for for guests…or just yourselves.
K said that he couldn’t find even one thing to criticise about about this bisque. That means a lot to me.
When I started to cook — way back in 2006 — we agreed that he should be honest about my cooking rather than being blindly supportive of it. If K feels my pan sauce was just a mite too thin, or the salad dressing needed just a dribble more oil and dash less pepper, then he should — and does — say so. False compliments never made anyone a better cook. So, when K tells me that he could not find one bad thing to say about this bisque, I know the praise is true and it makes me happy.
I cooked the lobsters for the bisque in the leftover liquid from when I steamed lobsters last weekend, which gave the liquid an extra-concentrated flavour. You could just as easily have used bottled clam juice or sea water…or just water with enough salt so the water tastes like sea water.
This time I didn’t bother rigging up a steamer insert. I dumped the liquid into the pan and tossed in one onion, one large carrot, and one stalk of celery, all roughly chopped, along with one bay leaf. Then, I adjusted the salt, brought the water back to a boil and and plopped the lobsters in. Once the water was back up to a boil, I put the lid on and cooked the big sea critters for 9 minutes total (8 minutes per pound and 4 minutes for each additional pound). If you have any fresh thyme lying around, toss in a few sprigs. If not, no biggie. Your bisque will still taste super.
Strain all the solids out, reserving the liquid. This is going to be the body of your bisque and will give it that wonderful lobster-y taste. Mmmm. I started with 5 or 6 cups of liquid.and used 4 cups of liquid for the bisque.
As you can see in the photo above, there are two lobster tails and just three claws. That’s because we ate the meat from the fourth claw — it was actually the first claw I broke open — even before it registered in my mind that I needed the lobster meat for the bisque. Didn’t even bother with dipping the thing in butter. The meat was so sweet that no butter was necessary.
I experimented with both (I am a scientist after all and so I set up a controlled experiment) and discovered that we preferred the claw meat left whole over the tail meat left whole. I’ve adjusted the recipe accordingly even though my photos show whole tail meat.
The lobster bisque itself is wicked easy to make. Sweat one onion — chopped — in 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter for 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Yup, that is a quarter cup of butter. This is a lobster bisque, not diet food. You will probably end up eating over your calorie limit; I certainly did. Add a pinch of salt to draw out moisture from the onions.
When the onions are translucent and just starting to melt, crank up the heat to medium-high and add the white wine. Cook off all the wine. As appealing as it sounds, boozy lobster bisque is not tasty. Add the tomato paste, and cook for a couple of minutes.
Now add the flour and give it a good stir until it smells faintly nutty, about a minute. Don’t worry about the flour all clumping together — it’s supposed to do that. The flour will thicken your bisque. Now add about a cup of your strained lobster liquid and whisk to the flour into it.
When there are no more clumps, add the rest of the lobster liquid. Add half a cup of heavy cream. Bring it all to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer — about medium-low or just under. Simmer for 15 minutes. While the bisque is simmering, extract the lobster tail meat and chop it up. Purée the bisque, check the seasoning, adjusting as needed, and add the chopped tail meat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve, topped with the claw meat. Serve the lobster bisque topped with minced parsley or chives. Or don’t. It will be delicious either way.
- 2 1-1.25 lb lobsters, steamed and
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 4 cups lobster stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- salt, to taste
- parsley or chives, finely chopped (optional, for serving)
- Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion with a big pinch of salt. Coat the onions in butter and allow them to sweat, stirring infrequently, for about 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent and start to melt. Lower the heat as needed so that the onions don't melt.
- Extract the lobster tails and claw meat. Dice the tail meat. Leave the claw meat whole.
- Add the wine, if using, and turn the heat up to medium-high. When the wine has boiled off, add the tomato paste. Stir for about a minute or until oil just begins to separate out. Sprinkle in the flour and incorporate it into the oil. The flour will form a big lump. Stir the flour for 1-2 minutes, until there is a faint nutty aroma.
- Pour in about a cup of the lobster stock. Whisk to blend the flour into the liquid. Once there are no more clumps of flour, add the rest of the liquid and whisk one more time to combine. Add the heavy cream. Simmer for 15 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Blend the soup using an immersion blender or in a regular blender (carefully, holding the lid down). Return the soup to the pot. Add the chopped tail meat. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve, topped with claw meat and a pinch of finely chopped parsley or chives (if using).
PS Although I did not adhere to it, I used this recipe as a starting point for developing my own.