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Lobster Bisque

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 6 cups

Servings: 5 or 6 as an appetizer

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

Nutritional Information

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


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.

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


Rate or Review


  • User avater
    motherslittlehelper | 01/01/2018

    Love Love. So, we actually made the stock about 2 months ago after eating lobster. Not to this recipe, but really close in hind sight! (Years of experience reading this mag.) Kept in freezer. Had a craving for lobster bisque, happened to have a bunch of lump crab in fridge, looked up this recipe, made it, sub crab meat and voila! Thank you!

  • User avater
    SueCron | 08/03/2014

    Outstanding! My husband and I made this together. He's been craving lobster so we bought a 3-pounder and made this bisque and some spicy lobster pasta from this month's Bon Appetit. We found the directions a little vague on the body and roe parts and kept re-reading the recipe. Either way, aside from having extra lobster, we followed the directions as best we understood and the bisque is fantastic.

  • User avater
    Hillary111 | 12/24/2012

    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.

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