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Lobster Bisque

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Serves 5 or 6 as an appetizer

Yields about 6 cups

Sherry and lobster are a classic flavor pairing; here, cream sherry lends the bisque a slightly sweet complexity. For richer flavor and more intense color, use a female lobster. (Read the Test Kitchen post to learn how to tell the sex of a lobster).

For the broth:
  • 1 1-1/2- to 1-3/4-lb. live lobster, rinsed
  • 1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter
For the bisque:
  • 2-1/2 oz. (5 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-1/8 oz. (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. cream sherry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the broth:

In an 8- to 10-quart stockpot, bring 1-1/2 inches of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tsp. salt and the lobster, cover, and steam until bright red and one of the smaller legs twists off easily, about 18 minutes. Remove the lobster with tongs and reserve the steaming liquid.

When the lobster is cool enough to handle, twist off the claws and the tail. Using a nutcracker, crack the knuckles and claws and push out the meat with your little finger or a pick. Set the tail on a hard surface and use your hand to press down and crack the shell; push out the meat. Slice the tail meat in half lengthwise and remove the black intestinal vein. Dice the meat from one claw and half of the tail and set aside for garnish. Coarsely chop the remaining meat. Reserve the shells.

Rinse out the tomalley (green matter) from the upper body. Split the body lengthwise and use your fingers to remove the innards. (If the lobster is female, you’ll see bright-red roe; leave it in the body for additional color and flavor.)

Use kitchen shears or a chef’s knife to break the body and reserved shells into 1- to 2-inch pieces and then use a meat mallet or a small pot to flatten them.

Measure the steaming liquid and add water to total 6 cups of liquid. Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flattened shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to blister and their color intensifies, about 5 minutes. Add the liquid and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.

Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a large liquid measuring cup. You should have 4 cups—if there’s more, boil until reduced to 4 cups; if there’s less, add water.

Make the bisque:

Clean and dry the saucepan and melt the butter in the pan over low heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, until golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Add the wine, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf; bring to a boil, and cook, stirring, until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the lobster broth and cook uncovered over medium heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped lobster meat and simmer for 2 minutes to heat. Remove the bay leaf.

In a blender, purée the mixture in batches until smooth. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve back into the pot, pushing on the solids with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the cream and sherry, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook the bisque over low heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Serve the bisque garnished with the diced lobster meat.

Make Ahead Tips

The bisque and lobster garnish can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day. Reheat over medium-low heat before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Begin the meal with Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese & Orange-Fennel Seed Vinaigrette.
 

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 470; Fat (g): 32; Fat Calories (kcal): 280; Saturated Fat (g): 19; Protein (g): 25; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): 13; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 540; Cholesterol (mg): 170; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I made this recipe and served it on a boat, OMG it was fantastic. The flavor was rich, well balanced, with the right hint of sherry. Everyone raved about it and it was wonderful for a cold night on the water. I did buy females as suggested in the link although the fish monger thought I was nuts when I asked for them. The roe definitely added a deeper flavor. The only issue I had was that it was so labor intensive. I made a triple batch and it took 6 hours to complete. I also ended up running the lobster that goes into the soup through the food processor to break apart the strands better than pushing it through a strainer as that just did not seem to work.

Delicious as written. Like another reviewer, I was puzzled by the one negative review. I have cooked lobsters my whole adult life, including those I bought directly from the seafood truck while living in New England, and I have always cooked them for 15 minutes after they start to boil. That has been foolproof. A little longer might be desired for a larger lobster, but surely not much less! I cook my shrimp until just barely translucent, and I cook my salmon rare, but I can't imagine cooking a live lobster for only 5-7 minutes. The reviewer who suggested that also gave the recipe a low review, apparently only because he/she disagreed with cooking time.

Not sure about the previous reviewer’s times, but I followed the recipe and the lobster was cooked perfectly. Loved the sherry, and the overall flavor was quite good. I’ll be making it again for Valentine’s Day.

Just a comment. Cooking a lobster for 18 minutes probably results in a very rubbery variety. The kind usually found at steak houses and other non-fish specialty places. Try to cook the lobster for 5 - 7 minutes, depending on size, turn off the heat, and let the lobster cool in the cooking liquid. This can be done one day ahead of serving. If done ahead, store lobster in cooking liquid, refrigerated. This procedure results in a very succulent and tasty lobster! Tomas Janson tojans6213@cox.net

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