I’ve been making quick lobster bisque for many years now and I think I have it perfected! While getting whole lobsters and using the shells to make your own stock is wonderful, it is possible to make a great, yes even fabulous, lobster bisque with frozen lobster meat. It just takes a little layering of flavors and enough time to let them infuse the stock.
I don’t say fabulous lightly. Lobster bisque is one of my specialties, both to make and to try in restaurants. I know good, I know bad, and I know fabulous.
Many, many years ago I remember pulling out Joy of Cooking (the 1975 edition of course!) and looking up how to make lobster bisque. Theirs is a simple recipe which involves a few spices, some stock and milk, and whole lobsters. And I was nodding along until I got to the whole lobsters. I just wanted some tasty soup! I didn’t want to buy a giant stockpot (since I didn’t own one yet) and deal with wiggly lobsters.
Young me did not want to deal with cooking a lobster just to have soup. 🙂 Current me is willing to try all sorts of cooking adventures, but young me had a point (the point being SOUP NOW) and started me on the quest to make the best quick lobster bisque I could.
Can you think of a better or more noble quest?
One of my early a-ha moments came at a lovely, little French restaurant where I…tried the lobster bisque. Yes, I know, this is a shock. 🙂 Honestly, I can never resist a bisque! The chef used tomato paste in his bisque and I knew I had to add that into mine. Another came when I decided to add a little cognac to the stock along with some white wine. At that point I knew I was onto something.
The recipe I’ve ended up with starts by gently cooking up some aromatics. Then I like a roux to thicken – rice has never done if for me. It’s just not smooth enough! Once the roux is ready, I add the wine and cognac to cook it down. You need to be a little brave here and also attentive! Because it’s going to get thick. No worries – just add in the stock and give a good stir as it warms up and everything will smooth out.
At this point, all that’s left is to wait for the stock to finish infusing with flavor. No rushing that bit!
Then strain the stock, add the cream, heat it all up again, and fold in the lobster. Thirty minutes and you have a fabulous quick lobster bisque.
With no lobster wrangling needed.
– Happy Soup Making, Annemarie
Fabulous Quick Lobster Bisque
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1/4 cup finely diced carrots
- 1/4 cup finely diced celery
- a sprinkle of kosher salt
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 tbsp cognac, or bourbon
- 2 cups seafood stock
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 10 oz frozen lobster meat, thawed and roughly chopped
- creme fraiche, optional
- 4 tbsp finely chopped chives
- In a stockpot, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and kosher salt. Reduce the heat to low and saute the vegetables for about 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir to combine, making sure the flour is well mixed into the butter. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add white wine and cognac. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Mixture will be thick. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf, cayenne, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, stirring vigorously to fully blend in the roux, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain the stock to remove all the solids and then return it to the pot. Add the milk and cream and bring the bisque back to a simmer. Remove the soup from the heat. Add in the chopped lobster meat and warm it through.
- Serve the bisque topped with creme fraiche (if desired) and chives.
- If you are using creme fraiche, it's nice to warm it up a bit before swirling it into the soup.
- I prefer the flavor and texture of claw and knuckle meat in the bisque. It usually comes in small, plastic tubs and needs to be thawed in the refrigerator for at least a day.
- If you can find lobster stock, definitely go with that for the broth. However, basic seafood stock or clam broth are also good choices.
- I sometimes will keep the vegetables in the broth. If I don't want to strain them out, I puree the broth with the vegetables in the blender or using a stick blender (though a stick blender will not get the broth as smooth), then continue with the recipe and add the milk/cream.
- When I don't have any cognac on hand, I switch to brandy or bourbon.
- If you think the bisque is a little thick after you add the milk and cream, add a little more milk or stock to the soup.
- Don't cook the lobster! Just warm it through. The lobster will get tough if you let it simmer in the bisque.
- For a lighter, less indulgent bisque, reduce the cream to 1/2 cup and increase the milk to 1 1/2 cups. I don't like the bisque with all milk.