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A Cooking Adventure with Thom

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Lobster Bisqué

Thom Hackett

Original by

The Daily Soup Book Book

Serves:  6




The word bisque refers o a highly seasoned shellfish puree flavored with brandy and cream.  Intensely flavored bisques start with a shellfish stock.  Use the shellfish butter (the fat layer on the surface of the chilled stock) to caramelize the vegetables.  If desired, cook a live lobster in rapidly boiling water for 8 minutes and use the liquid as the base for the stock.



4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 medium white onion, chopped
2 leeks, rinsed well and chopped
2 stalks chopped celery, chopped
1 fresh fennel bulb
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
28 ounces canned tomatoes, diced with juice
1 bunch tarragon, stems tied together and leaves chopped
1 bunch thyme, stems tied together and leaves chopped
½ cup dry vermouth
¼ cup brandy
6 cups stock, shellfish stock or chicken
1½ cups heavy cream
1 pound cooked lobster meat
4 Italian tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups oyster crackers, optional

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds crustacean shells, or use liquid from cooking lobster
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped
1 leek, chopped
½ head garlic
2 ripe tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 sprigs Italian parsley
4 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine
1 cup brandy
12 cups water, mineral or filtered.


Cooking Method

Melt the butter with the flour in a large stockpot over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Cook until the mixture forms a thick, golden roux.

  1. Add the onions, leeks, celery, and fennel bulb and sweat for 4 minutes, until tender.

  2. Add the fennel seeds, bay leaves, salt, and cayenne and stir to coat the vegetables.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes and tarragon and thyme stems and simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Add the vermouth and simmer for 2 minutes.

  5. Add the brandy and simmer for 2 minutes.

  6. Add the stock, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

  7. Reduce heat to low and add the heavy cream.

  8. Remove the tarragon and thyme stems and bay leaves, puree about half of the soup in a blender or food processor, and return to the pan.

  9. Add the lobster meat and simmer for 2 minutes to hear through.

  10. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped tomatoes, chopped tarragon, chopped thyme, and garlic.

To serve, ladle the bisque into bowls and top with oyster crackers, if desired.

To make a shellfish butter, divide the butter and crustacean shells into 4 equal parts. Process one part of each (butter and shells) in a blender or food processor until the shells are finely crushed and the butter is incorporated. Repeat with the remaining three (3) batches.

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.

  2. Add the shellfish butter and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mixture appears dry.

  3. Add the onion, carrot, celery, leek, garlic, tomatoes, peppercorns, and fresh herbs. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

  4. Add the white wine and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

  5. Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

  6. Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

  7. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pressing the shells and vegetables with the back of a spoon to extract all the juice.

  8. Chill.

  9. Remove the butter layer from the surface and reserve for another use, such as using in place of butter or oil in sautéing.

819 Mountshire Terrace, Chester, Virginia 23836 Phone: (804) 530-1183