In a recent post about my method of chowder-making, I mentioned bisques as a more “civilized” kind of soup. Well, this week I tried my hand at lobster bisque, and we have been quite pleased with the result.
I decided to make this soup because of the omnipresent generosity of our neighbors here on the island, who always cook up lobsters when they come up, and always get more than they need so that there’s plenty to go around. The result is that, although Paul and I usually make our own meal, lobster is invariably pressed on us; and when someone has cooked up a lobster just for you, you don’t turn it down. Last weekend, our neighbors knocked on our door at the end of the evening, bearing a plate of lobster and scallops. So we had a surfeit.
Paul and I are fine with lobster—we dont go out of our way to cook it, but we’ll eat it when one is put in front of us—but Paul is a huge fan of lobster bisque. I found a recipe in one of the cookbooks up here, The L.L. Bean Book of New New England Cookery. What I learned surprised me: to make a lobster broth, you actually cook up the shells in water, and then sieve them off to leave you with the broth. This cookbook recommended crushing 2 to 3 shells up in a food processor, so as to get more out of them. Then you boil them for 20 minutes in 6 cups of water, and strain.
In another pan, you melt a fat pat of butter, and sautee therein a chopped onion, a chopped celery rib, and a chopped carrot. The recipe called for a couple of leeks as well, but I did not have any on hand, so I went heavier on the onion and celery. After 5 minutes, you add the sieved broth, and simmer until the veg are cooked. Then you puree the mixture in a blender and return to the pan, adding a cup-plus of cream, the lobster meat, and salt and cayenne to taste.
The result was a very tasty bisque indeed; though it wasn’t till I added the cayenne that it really started to shine. Then the flavor really opened up, and we had a delicious soup, so rich that it was hard to have a whole bowl at once. A dusting of paprika, and there you have it. Very civilized indeed.