I first fell in love with lobster bisque when I was around 12 years-old. There was a restaurant on the east coast of the United States named Legal Seafood and I tried the soup there for the first time. Something about the flavour of that soup hit my heart strings. I never thought I would find a better soup than that one, until I became quite the regular at Joe Beef, a restaurant in Montréal. This restaurant is a diner’s dream and occasionally, there is a dish that is sauced with lobster bisque.
These experiences have made lobster bisque one of my favourite soups. Although, I consider myself much more of a crab-lover than a lobster fan, lobster bisque does something special to my palate. The mixture of cream, tomato, warming spices, and luxurious lobster is perfect for a weekend meal. This soup recipe requires a bit of a time commitment, but it is well worth the effort.
You will be making your own lobster stock with lobster shells. Making a good stock requires a good 6-8 hours, but this time investment leads to a stock with wonderful flavours that will permeate the soup. Lobster shells are readily available at your local fish monger and can normally get them at a discount to regular lobster. When you make this stock, you will also have plenty of leftover stock which can be frozen, just like chicken stock, and used later in dishes such as lobster risotto, curries, or soups. I chose to garnish my soup with fresh lobster, but if you are looking to save money, the soup will be just as enjoyable without the garnish as the lobster stock provides all the fresh flavours needed to enhance the bisque.
After making that wonderful stock, we combine it with a homemade spice mix, some liquor, tomato, and cream. It is a magical combination that after a few more hours of simmering will blend into a savoury and drool-worthy soup.
- At least 6 lobster shells (can get them from your local fishmonger, much cheaper than a lobster with meat included)
- 4 carrots
- ½ large onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ large onion (diced)
- 4 shallots (minced)
- 12 cloves garlic (minced)
- 6 tablespoons flour (can used gluten-free substitute if needed)
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco (or favourite hot sauce)
- 1 cup sherry
- 8 cups lobster stock
- 2 cups heavy cream
- In a large stockpot, add lobster shells, carrots, onion, celery, bay leaves, and water. Use at least 10 cups of water so you will have enough stock to make the soup. When making this stock, the more lobster shells you can use, the more flavourful your stock will be. I have used as many as 12 shells at once – the local fishmonger knows me and was nice enough to gift me some free shells.
- Turn heat to medium and heat stock until it begins to boil. At that point, reduce the temperature to low and simmer the stock for as long as you can. I aim for 6-8 hours.
- When the stock is finished, strain out shells and vegetables.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold finished soup.
- Add onions and shallots and sauté until translucent (approximately 5 minutes).
- Add garlic after cooking down onions and shallots. Sauté for about 1 minute.
- Add flour (if gluten free, use gluten free flour or my personal favourite, potato starch). Cook this “roux” for approximately 5 minutes. Make sure to stir continuously so the flour does not burn.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine and combine with flavour mixture until smooth paste forms.
- Add tomato paste, paprika, thyme, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and sherry to pan. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add homemade lobster stock and bring soup to a simmer. Once simmering, cook uncovered for 15 minutes. This will allow the flavours to merry.
- Transfer soup to blender and blend until smooth.
- Add blended soup back to pot and add heavy cream to taste. If you need to add a little more richness, you can also melt some butter into the bisque.
- If you wish to serve the bisque with lobster meat, you can reheat the cooked lobster meat in the simmering soup and then serve. I also like to mix in some corn to my soup. You can garnish the soup with anything you wish.