National Seafood Bisque Day

Even the word “bisque” sounds fancy. Chefs make bisques out of all sorts of ingredients, including fruits, squash, carrots, and tomatoes. However, the original bisque was always seafood based. This is a rich soup and pricy, too.

In truth, the shells of shrimp and lobster make a marvelous seafood stock, but to make it easier, we can always use a purchased seafood or fish stock with or without some added brininess from bottled clam juice.

If you want to make your own Super Simple Seafood Stock, try this:

Melt 2 T butter on med-high heat; add shrimp shells, lobster shells, and lobster legs. (Or just shrimp shells, of course). Stir for 3 minutes. Add 4 ½ c warm water in which you have dissolved 2 seafood bouillon cubes AND a mahhhhhvelous “secret” ingredient: 1 T Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base. Add 2 Bay leaves, 1 diced onion, 1 diced carrot, and 2 diced celery stalks. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes. Strain out and discard all the shells and solids. You should have 4 cups. If you need more liquid, simply add a bit more stock, bottled clam juice, or water. (Note: No, I have no affiliate status to make money promoting Better Than Bouillon’s product. It is simply a super product, and they have many other varieties, from beef and vegetable to ham and onion.)

To make a seafood bisque, you simply add your stock to a roux, followed by cream and your seasonings. Then garnish with lump crabmeat and sautéed shrimp.

That said, I can’t leave without also giving you my Sensational Seafood Bisque recipe. Use a packaged stock or one you made, as you prefer. This recipe makes enough for 8 appetizer servings or 4 entrée servings.

4 T butter

2 c chopped sweet onion

2 T tomato paste

4 T flour

4 c seafood stock

1 celery rib, diced

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp each: Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, sweet paprika, Old Bay seasoning, & dried thyme (not ground)

¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or ½ tsp, to suit your taste)

1/4 c each: brandy and dry sherry (or white wine)

8 oz canned claw crabmeat & the juices

8 large shrimp, peeled & deveined & coarsely chopped

½ c diced lobster meat

2 c heavy (whipping) cream

Salt & ground white pepper (to suit your taste)

8 large shrimp, sprinkle with salt & pepper; then sautéed in butter

4-8 lobster claws or 4 lobster tails, halved lengthwise once, then crosswise twice, warmed

½ lb lump or jumbo lump crabmeat, warmed

Garnishes of your choice, such as: chopped cooked bacon, croutons, chopped fresh parsley or chives, chunks of avocado, dollop of sour cream

Melt butter in Dutch oven or large soup pot over med heat; sauté onion for 3 min, stirring once. Remove from heat and stir in tomato paste, followed by flour. Slowly stir in 1 c of your stock, followed by the remaining stock, stirring till smooth. Return to med-high heat and stir in seasonings and alcohol, followed by the claw crabmeat, chopped shrimp, and diced lobster. Bring to a boil and let cook 5 minutes. (The alcohol cooks off during this, leaving its lovely flavor.) Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the bisque base. Return pan to med-low heat and stir in the cream. Heat it through, but do not let it boil. Taste your bisque and season with salt & white pepper to suit your taste. Ladle into warmed serving bowls and shrimp, lobster, and lump crabmeat on top along with other garnishes you have selected. Serve to your grateful guests, along with a salad and crusty bread, if desired.

KISS Tips: 1. Warm the seafood toppings very briefly in a small skillet in a bit of butter while warming the cream in your bisque.

  1. If using a traditional blender container, puree your bisque in 3 batches to prevent splattering.
  2. If you want your bisque thicker, whisk together 1 T cornstarch with 2 T cold water; then whisk into your soup, simmering (but NOT boiling) till thickened.
  3. If your like, after tasting your bisque, you can also stir in a T of sherry for extra flavor.
  4. This is also nice with just shrimp and crabmeat. I have also added a sautéed scallop or 2 to the seafood on top, only halving them if using large sea scallops.

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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