Maine lobsters are a big treat, so why not get the most out of them. After our lobster boil a couple of weeks ago, link to post here, when Meakin had live lobsters flown in from Maine, we saved some of the cooked lobster bodies so we could make lobster bisque.
Seafood bisques are smooth and creamy soups of French origin and are very rich. They are based on crustaceans and can be made from lobster, crab, shrimp, or crayfish. Bisques are perfect for special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays such as Valentine’s Day.
Lobsters can be cooked especially for bisque, but left-over lobster bodies are the most practical to use and work great. This recipe is from cookbook author & New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman and he says that if you haven’t saved the bodies from a lobster feast, they are available from fish markets, which either give them away or charge minimally. I don’t have any firsthand experience with that, but I am definitely going to look into it when we are in Florida next. Our favorite seafood market is Merrick’s in Cape Coral and they sell live Maine lobsters, so I am going to ask. I know I won’t find lobster bodies at our local market here in the mountains. Do any of you, especially those that live in the Northeast or near the ocean, know if fish markets sell or give away lobster bodies?
Our Ingles market here may not have Maine lobsters, but they make up for it by stocking French baguettes from Nancy Silverton’s Le Brea Bakery in California. Chef and baker Nancy Silverton is credited for sparking the artisan bread renaissance. Talk about a fabulous crusty baguette – ooh, la, la. You would have to travel to France to find a better baguette than the ones from La Brea.
Seafood bisque is traditionally served in a low two-handled cup on a saucer or in a mug. It is very rich and a little bit goes a long way and a crusty French baguette served alongside is a must.
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything - serves 4
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 to 8 lobster bodies, cooked or uncooked, with as many other lobster shells as you can scavenge, plus coral, tomalley, and any stray bits of meat you might find*
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup cored, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; and don't bother to drain)
6 cups full flavored chicken stock or store bought fish stock or strained liquid reserved from boiling lobsters
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish
Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large-deep saucepan or casserole over medium heat. When it melts, add the onion, garlic, carrot, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the lobster bodies and, if they are uncooked, cook, stirring, until they turn red, about 10 minutes (if they're already cooked, cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and tomatoes and turn the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the stock, turn the heat to high, and bring back to a boil. Once again, turn the heat to low and cover; cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Remove the lobster shells, crack them if necessary, and pick off any meat you find. Return the bits of meat to the soup (reserve any large pieces of meat you have for the final addition below).
Pass the soup through a food mill or puree it in a blender or food processor. (You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.)Return the soup to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the remaining butter, in bits, until it melts. Add the cream and any bits of lobster meat and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and serve.