Velvety rich soup speaking of luxury and indulgence with every sip, lobster bisque is a classic recipe that many home cooks are too intimidated to attempt. Perhaps it is the image of chasing live lobsters around the kitchen, gathered from many a Hollywood movie, which puts us off, as the recipe itself is quite simple.
Live lobsters are killed in seconds by plunging them into boiling water, but if the thought is too much for you, purchase them cooked in their shells from a good fishmonger, so that you know that they are really fresh (their tails should be curled to show that they were alive when cooked). The fresher the lobster the better the flavour of the soup you make with it.
Recipe for Lobster Bisque
4 whole lobsters weighing approx 2kg / 4 ½ lbs in total
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tin of chopped tomatoes
50g / 2oz butter
250 ml / 1 cup dry white wine
1.5 litres / 6 cups fish or chicken stock, or the liquid left from boiling lobsters
250 ml / 1 cup double cream
parsley to garnish
In a large heavy based casserole melt half of the butter over a medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrot, bay leaf and thyme, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes until they soften. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
If you are using live lobsters, plunge them into a large pot of boiling water for one minute, then remove them and strain the liquid to use instead of stock.
Add the lobsters to the casserole. Uncooked ones will need about 10 minutes cooking, stirring, until they turn red. If you are using ready cooked ones just cook for 5 minutes until warmed through, as too much cooking toughens the meat.
Turn the heat to medium high and add the wine. When it bubbles, reduce the heat, cover the pot and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
Now add the stock, or strained lobster water, bring back to the boil and cook over a low heat for another 20 minutes.
Remove the lobster shells and pick off all the meat. Crack open claws and make sure you have got all the meat out. Take out the bay and thyme. Reserve a few pieces of succulent meat and return the rest to the soup.
Puree the soup in a blender or through food mill.
At this point the soup can be refrigerated until needed for up to two days.
When ready to serve, bring the soup to the boil, add the remaining butter and allow it to melt. Stir in the cream and the reserved meat and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Want to taste this without the hassle of cooking it for yourself? Try the Lobster Bisque at Loch Fyne restaurant in Nottingham.