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Lobster Bisque

Making Lobster Bisque and Ribeyes for my husband on Valentine's Day - I need an awesome lobster bisque recipe, whose got one??

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  1. I do! I do! I just can't locate it at the moment. It was from Gourmet Magazine from decades ago - broiled lobster and the pounded shells used for stock, white wine, fresh cream, a hint of tarragon and dry sherry. I will search.
    Just don't use canned lobster. It's an abomination not befitting a token of love.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chefpaulo

      Sounds delicious! I had no idea you could even buy canned lobster - gross! It's Valentine's Day, so no cheap substitutions on my end.

        1. re: IOPfoodie

          This one sounds more complex than the one I recall - probably from the late '70s. I recall much more cream, no corn starch and (ulp!) no head of garlic. I'll keep looking in the files. And a three pound lobster??? Best of luck without taking out a second mortgage.

      1. I worked in many French restaurants during my career. Most everyone used Sauce Americaine (lobster sauce) with heavy cream & butter to make lobster bisque. This is a very laborious & costly undertaking. Awhile ago a friend asked me for a recipe. This is what I sent her:
        Here’s a fairly simple method that yields great results. Most lobster bisque recipes have you make a stock with the carcasses first then thicken it with a flour and butter roux, add dairy then strain. My method is easier, makes a better, more elegant soup but it is more expensive to make.

        Boil about 5# whole, live lobsters (chicks or culls are cheapest-but you picked the wrong week to make this) then shock in ice water. Remove meat from shell.You'll be using only a small amount of the meat for garnish so reserve the rest for another application.
        Break up the lobster carcasses as much as possible using a mallet, hammer, or even a food processor. I also add if I have shrimp shells that I’ve frozen and saved
        In a soup pot sauté shells in butter for a few minutes, add a diced medium onion, a diced carrot, a diced rib of celery and few whole cloves of garlic, a bit of tomato paste then add a cup of dry white wine or dry sherry. When the liquid has reduced by about one third add two quarts heavy cream and one quart half and half. Bring to a low boil then simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. Strain soup through a sturdy metal strainer pressing down on the mass to extract as much liquid as possibe, then strain a second time through a finer strainer. When serving, reheat the soup in a pan and finish by whisking in whole sweet butter and add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with lobster meat. Some people add a bit of cayenne pepper or fresh tarragon.
        Edit-I forgot the brandy. Usually added & flambeed before the other liquids are added.

        8 Replies
        1. re: zackly

          We use Jasper Whte's recipe from his book, Lobster at Home.


          My wife made a batch on Sunday and will finish Friday for Valentine's Day.

          1. re: zackly

            YO! This is more like it! Mir poix the veggies and slow cook with the pounded shells for a rich stock. And I prefer the dry Sherry over a white wine - but just a hint to not overpower the lobster.

            1. re: zackly

              This sounds lovely and not hard at all. It's too bad when people assume that because it's special it's complicated. Thanks for writing this out, z.

              1. re: zackly

                I make a point of reserving some liquid from boiled lobsters and freezing it, then using as a starter the next time, so I have some very concentrated lobster stock ready to go at a moment's notice. I recommend that you start doing so for the next time.

                If you have a SS food processor or juicier, you can pulverize the shells, Don't try it in one with plastic parts.

                1. re: law_doc89

                  Do you reduce the liquid before freezing? I would think it wouldn't be "very concentrated" otherwise.

                2. re: zackly

                  I've got a stash of homemade lobster stock in my freezer. If I wanted to make lobster bisque, how should I proceed?

                  1. re: zackly

                    I'll just tack this on here as this is such a great sounding recipe. AFAIK, bisques don't have "chunks" in them. They're pureed and, as you say, a little of the meat is added for garnish. Otherwise, isn't it "chowder"?

                  2. Buy a canned or refrigerated lobster bisque, and add the meat from a 11/2 pounder you cook. You will kill yourself trying from scratch, especially if it sucks. Concentrate more on those ribeyes!

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      Oh come now. This is the home cooking board. Buy canned?

                      Take your time and be careful and it won't suck and will be lightyears beyond canned. You can also make it a day ahead and warm it up to serve instead of trying to do lots of things at once.

                        1. re: law_doc89

                          Not understanding why this link has anything to do with making bisque.

                        2. re: ccbweb

                          My few attempts were not as good as the Bookbinders canned. OP is making a big investment of time and expense for just a soup course to accompany a steak dinner. I surrender, and admit to my slothfulness and lack of skills. Doing some quick math with the recipes here, it can be a $50 bowl of soup.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            You are correct - this will not be a cheap dish to prepare. We'll still be spending less than if we went out! And I like a challenge and have always wanted to try and make it at home. Steak is so easy to prepare, I have to have something else to do in the kitchen!

                            1. re: IOPfoodie

                              Hey, it's Valentine's Day! I bought two whole foie gras to celebrate my 65th birthday. Money well spent.

                              Zackly's recipe sounds rich and wonderful and totally straightforward.

                              1. re: IOPfoodie

                                You have a great attitude. I simply wanted to keep you from driving down a long road, then off a cliff.
                                FYI, I had lobster bisque from scratch at Berns in Tampa last month, I score it 95. With some regularity, I enjoy the lobster bisque at Anna Maria Oyster Bar (there are 3 ) and I have been suspicious that it is SO consistent. I score it a 92. I finally pried it out of a server there that they start with "a base".
                                The extra 3 points for a perfect scratch version is a lot of work, and I hope yours is delicious!
                                HVD to you both!

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Howdy Veggo,

                                  I'm a big fan of the sea roach. Here on the Sou'west Shore of Connecticut we take 'em for granted. The freezer is always full of carcasses so bisque isn't that big a deal for us. Besides, what else do you do when you're snowed in? Jasper White is the man.

                                  We spent Super Bowl week in Amelia Island (Old Town, not the fancy southern end) and had fantastic local shrimp and crab. Lots of pirates there. Sure wish I was there now.

                                  Edited to add: the shrimp and grits at Joe's Bistro on Amelia is a keeper. My kind of lunch.

                                  Be good.

                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    Hey Steve, Y'all shamed me into kicking up dinner a notch. I had only my Protestant chicken salad ( w/grapes and walnuts), avocado, and Mexican beer.
                                    I just hit the market for 4 cans of Bar Harbor Lobster Bisque (haven't seen Bookbinders for a while), a 3 year aged gouda, and a couple La Crema chardonnays ,so I can make this a legitimate meal. I'll advise at a later time about the Bar Harbor Lobster Bisque.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      Life's too short. Good call on the wine.

                                  2. re: Veggo

                                    Good to know - I bought 5 small tails, so I'll make the stock today with a couple of the shells and the shrimp shells to make the base. And then roast the remaining shells tomorrow. Sounds redundant but I want to be sure it has that rich lobster flavor!

                                2. re: Veggo

                                  Veggo, It's expensive, especially around Valentine's Day, when roses, lobster, filet mignon & Champagne all are at premium prices but you do get to use most of the lobster meat for another dish so it's not that expensive As far as refrigerated soups go, there are some very good ones (Legal Seafood, Blount) and I'm sure you could make an excellent bisque with the addition of a few ingredients, primarily cream & butter. I've done everything the long, expensive, classical way but now I'm all about convenience, brevity and thrift. If I have a strength as a chef it is that generally I can give you a recipe/method that you would score 90% in half the time & expense of creating a 100% product. But it is fun to go all out sometimes.

                                  1. re: zackly

                                    I love your recipe cause you have wonderful ingredients but don't get all fussy.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      c oliver---that the problem with cookbook authors & celebrity chefs. They have to "personalize" recipes or be accused of plagiarism so they add extra, unnecessary ingredients to simple, tried & true recipes. Reinventing the wheel so to speak.

                            2. I would look for James Patterson's recipe if you can find it. Simple, classic and perfect. Stretch your stock flavor with shrimp shells / heads from your freezer if you got 'em.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: e_bone

                                Agreed. Someone typed it up on this random message board: http://www.stripersonline.com/t/71650...

                                Made it a couple of weeks ago, it's wonderful.

                              2. I've not made this but like the fact that most of the lobster is pureed and then some reserved meat is added as garnish. To me, a bisque of any sort doesn't have chunks at all.


                                1. Nothing to it. Dunk a couple of lobsters in boiling water until they stop moving. Remove the meat from the shells & the tomalley & innards from the heads and make a roasted lobster stock. Roast the shells along with an onion, celery & carrot in a hot oven for about 30 minutes. Stir it occasionally. When roasted, make a stock out of the shells -- don't forget to deglaze the roasting pan.

                                  When the stock's done in about an hour (no need for long cooking with roasted shells) reduce it until it's rich -- how much depends on how much water you started with, but figure to reduce by at least a third.

                                  Sweat shallots in butter & add a couple spoons of flour and about a half tsp of sweet paprika to make a bit of a roux. Add stock & bring to a boil, then add heavy cream -- about equal to the amount of stock. You can add a spoonful of tomato paste to help the color along. Bring to a boil & simmer until the right consistency, season to taste & add a splash of cognac. Return to a boil to drive off the alcohol, then strain into a new pot. Toss in the small pieces of lobster. & let simmer for a few minutes. Cut the tails into slices, put into bowls along with a claw, ladle the hot soup over & garnish with chives.

                                  Open a bottle of champagne

                                  1. Lots of great suggestions - thank you! I'm actually going to incorporate a little of each recipe. I have some (previously) frozen lobster tails and some fresh shrimp and will make make the concentrated fish broth today. Tomorrow, I'll roast the lobster shells as the Jasper White recipe calls for. And I'll definitely be including mirapoix, garlic, tomato paste, butter, tarragon, arborio rice, cream & sherry. I will also puree and strain but garnish with plenty of lobster meat. I'll take note of exact measurements and let you know how it turns out!

                                    But please keep the ideas coming since I won't be cooking the bisque until tomorrow!

                                    One question - I use grocery store Sherry cooking wine quite a bit for Asian food, and it's fine but for other recipes calling for white or red, I typically like to cook with something that's 'drinkable' in the $8-10 range. Should I spend a few bucks more and buy a bottle of sherry from the liquor store or stick with the cooking wine? I have some brandy as well.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: IOPfoodie

                                      Spend the buck$ ......don't use cooking "wine"....you wouldn't drink it would you?

                                      1. re: IOPfoodie

                                        Please throw out the cooking wine. It's pretty bad wine that then has salt added to it. That's why you don't find it with the wine. If you don't keep wine in the house, you can keep dry vermouth in the fridge and sub that. IMO, there's not really a sub for sherry. Could you borrow some or maybe buy a miniature at a liquor store?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I don't mind buying a bottle of sherry, we drink plenty of wine (just not sherry) and always cook with a decent bottle as I mentioned. I'll definitely grab a bottle...

                                      2. If you are heading out to the store, pick up some of the better than bouillon lobster base for a last minute "it just needs more lobster flavor punch" moment savior.

                                        I made lobster bisque and ribeyes for new years eve, and despite all the roasting, great stock, etc, mine was just not what I wanted. A teaspoon later, just right.

                                        I also use it for a base for lazy fast miso seafood soup. 2:1 miso to lobster base, add water, simmer with some shrimp, tofu, greens, etc and yummy!

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: autumm

                                            That might be my missing link.....

                                          2. If you REALLY want to be busy in the kitchen, make lobster ravioli for a starter, and use the bisque as a sauce.

                                            The ravioli is straightforward:
                                            Egg wash a wonton skin. Put about 3/4 teaspoon of diced lobster in the middle, together with diced tomato, chervil, and a few lobster eggs (if you're lucky enough to get some). Cover with a second wonton skin, press to seal, trim off excess with a round cookie cutter. Poach gently for a few minutes, drain, put into a plate, add bisque.

                                            If you have lobster eggs, add some to the bisque (crush some and leave some whole).

                                            I don't like flour in cream sauces.

                                            1. Please, how did it turn out? No news is bad news...
                                              My canned Bar Harbor lobster bisque is marginal; authentic but it needs help. The Bookbinders was much more pleasant., but it may be gone as the restaurant is gone. I'm thinking sherry and cream for the other cans. The Bookbinders right out of the can plus a few fresh lobsters made a great pasta meal, but I won't try that shortcut with the Bar Harbor.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                I'm ashamed to tell you that I ended up NOT making the bisque!! I had grand plans, as you know, but my husband one-upped me with a last minute reservation to spend the night at The Sanctuary on Kiawah (in South Carolina). Sooo, we drove out there for the night, had a great dinner - ribeye and lobster mac & cheese! But we came home on Saturday and I of course now had 2 day old lobster defrosting in the fridge and fresh shrimp; so we had lobster and shrimp for dinner. Simple - roasted with lemon, butter and a little garlic. However, I did make lobster/shrimp stock and let it reduce for a few hours and would still like to make the bisque soon. And I'll have one less step in the process which will make it less tedious and not as expensive.

                                                1. re: IOPfoodie

                                                  Cool. All's well that ends well. I don't know Kiawah but I'm very familiar with years at nearby Sea Island - can be a little "iffy" this time of year.

                                                  1. re: IOPfoodie

                                                    Sounds like fun anyway, and glad you remembered to make stock.

                                                    If you want to, try using frozen peeled crawfish tails instead of lobster-at least that's what I do-easy and so tasty. I use dry vermouth instead of sherry. I don't usually have seafood stock handy, so I simmer a half pound of shrimp with the celery, onion, and a little fresh red pepper, add the crawfish and vermouth, then liquefy it, shrimp SHELLS too, in the processor. The powdered shells is the thickener. Warm a little longer with plenty of cream. The only seasonings I use are white pepper, salt, a dash each of ground mustard and paprika. Garlic can ruin this, IMO. Garnish with some of the crawfish, a lump of good butter, and chopped chive and parsley.

                                                2. I live in Florida and am an avid scuba diver. As some may know, lobster season has just started and I come home with lots of fresh Spiney-lobsters.

                                                  Would a bisque made with spiney lobster have the same delicious flavor as a Maine lobster bisque?

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: JetLaggedChef

                                                    My family made many trips to the Caribbean in my youth and I could not tell the difference just from the tail meat. All was the same to me except for the absence of claws.

                                                    BTW, my dad was a USAID adviser to Viet Nam in 1973. After his three-month visit, his hosts gave him a farewell banquet featuring a 25-pound spiny lobster as the main course. Dad said it was the best he had ever had. I have pix somewhere in his slide files.I have never seen such a thing.

                                                    1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                      Good heavens! They get up to 15 lbs in our marinas because the pollution makes them unsafe to eat so they live a long time, but WOW! 25 lbs?? I'd love to see that pic if you can find it.

                                                      1. re: JetLaggedChef

                                                        I'll look, once I get my new scanner and can go through dad's (20K) slides. I remember this huge lobster laid out on the table surrounded by sculpted tropical fruit and greens.The tail looked to be two feet long.

                                                        As a pale second, I did have a lobster on Long Beach Island, New Jersey in 1978 that was just under 20 pounds. I do have pix of that. The purveyor said that weight and age are correlated so he figured the old man was hatched around 1911 and survived shells and depth charges of two world wars.

                                                        I still have his thumb claw as a revered souvenir.