This creamy Lobster Bisque is made with loads of lobster meat and is easier to make than you might think. Perfect for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or any special meal!
There are large chunks of lobster meat that contrast well with the rich, creamy bisque. Using the shells for the stock is key, you’ll achieve a much deeper flavor plus it’s an easy step. Although the chives the recipe calls for is considered a garnish, don’t skip them as they add just the right flavor, not to mention the bright green color really makes the dish pop.
If you’ve never made Lobster Bisque before, don’t be intimidated. The hardest part is removing the meat from the tail (I’ll show you how) but once you do one or two you’ll be an old pro.
Lobster Bisque Ingredients
- Lobster tails: If you have the option use cold water lobster tails such as Main lobster. They’re more expensive than warm water lobster, such as the California Spiny lobster, but their succulent white meat is worth it. If frozen, defrost overnight in the fridge. Here is a quick primer on buying lobster.
- Unsalted butter: The amount of salt added is controlled by using unsalted butter.
- Mirepoix: This fancy French term is simply a combination of diced carrots, onions (I use leeks) and celery sautéed in butter.
- Seasonings: Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, lemon thyme (or regular thyme), bay leaf adds flavor while also enhancing the other ingredients flavors.
- Tomato paste: Just a little tomato paste adds texture and flavor to this lobster bisque recipe.
- Brandy: The brandy adds a unique, sweet flavor. If you don’t have brandy you can use Sherry. You can also use white wine as well but skip the Flambé in this recipe as it will not ignite.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour for this recipe.
- Heavy cream: The cream adds a creamier texture to this French style soup.
How to Remove Lobster Tail Meat
- Using kitchen scissors, cut a slit lengthwise down both sides of the underside of the lobster tail.
- Once cut, pull the middle part of the underside back, start from the abdomen and pull towards the tail fin.
- Then pull both sides of the hard shell away from the underside.
- Pull the raw lobster meat from the lobster tail, start from the abdomen and pull towards the tail fin.
Here is a quick video on how to remove the shell from a lobster tail.
How to Make Lobster Bisque
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)
- Remove meat from shells and chop the lobster meat into bite sized pieces.
- Boil the shells lobster shells, celery, carrots, leeks, lemon thyme, bay leaf and tomato paste in melted butter.
- Flambé with brandy to burn off the alcohol (optional).
- Simmer to allow the flavors to meld.
- Strain the soup to remove the shells and other large pieces.
- Return to simmer and add the lobster meat to cook.
Garnish and serve!
Lobster Bisque Garnish
There are a variety of ways to garnish lobster bisque. Here are some garnish ideas, use one or a combination!
- Lobster bits: Reserve some lobster meat and garnish on top of the soup.
- Oyster Crackers: My go to are these Old Bay oyster crackers.
- Seasonings: Fresh chives, tarragon or parsley.
- Grated Cheese: Gruyère or parmesan cheese.
- Swirl of Cream: Crème fraîche, sour cream or Greek yogurt.
- Veggies: Whole kernel corn, jalapeños or red pepper slices.
- Meat: Crumbled bacon or pancetta.
- Heat: Cayenne pepper or pepper flakes.
- Bread: Serve with a side crusty bread to mop up the sauce. Dill toast is a nice addition as well.
I like to warm the soup bowls in the microwave right before serving.
Lobster Bisque Variations
Sometimes you’re limited to what you have on hand, have dietary restrictions or just want to mix things up. Here are a few variations to try but as with any ingredient substitutions, the flavor profile may change.
- Lobster Meat: Fresh or frozen lobster tails work BUT fresh is best. Make sure to thaw frozen lobster tails in the fridge overnight.
- Canned Lobster: You can use canned lobster but you really need the shells. If you’re using canned lobster try asking a fishmonger for any shells they may have on hand. You can also plan ahead and store lobster shells from a previous meal in a Zip-Loc bag, in the freezer. Shrimp shells can also be used, in a pinch.
- Seafood: Bisque can be made with any type of seafood or a combination including clams, shrimp, oyster, scallop, crayfish, crab or langostino. You can try imitation lobster but just keep in mind it’s really lobster flavored fish.
- Non-alcohol: Apple cider or apple juice can be substituted for the brandy but keep in mind there is no need to flambé, it won’t flame without the alcohol.
- 1 ½ - 2 pounds uncooked lobster tails, meat removed and chopped (reserve the shells)
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only
- 3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, or regular thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup brandy
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Finely chopped fresh chives and oyster crackers, for garnish
- Split uncooked lobster tails lengthwise with sharp kitchen shears. Remove meat, chop into bite sized pieces and set aside, reserve shells.
- Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add reserved lobster shells, celery, carrots, leeks, lemon thyme, bay leaf and tomato paste, stirring to incorporate tomato paste well. Continue to cook about another 10 minutes until lobster shells are bright red and the vegetables are starting to soften.
- Turn off the heat and add the brandy to flambé. Ignite the brandy with a long kitchen lighter or match and allow burn until the flame subsides (don’t stir during this process). The alcohol will burn off more quickly by flambéing but this step is also not necessary.
- Turn the heat back on low then sprinkle the flour over vegetable mixture in pot, stirring frequently for two minutes. Add some water to the pot, just enough to cover the vegetables in the pot (be careful not to add too much), then add the cream. Bring mixture just to a soft boil then immediately reduce heat to low.
- Simmer, uncovered, for an hour to allow the soup to reduce and for flavors to meld. Strain the soup into another pot (a high-quality chinois works best), discarding the solids and returning the soup to the pot. Season well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Return the bisque to a simmer. Add the chopped uncoooked lobster meat and cook for 4-5 minutes until meat is cooked through (time depends on how big your lobster pieces are). Garnish and serve.
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