Lobster bisque is very often considered to be a rich man's food. The cost of lobster alone can be prohibitive and a glance down many lobster bisque recipe ingredients lists will frequently confirm that the soup is expensive and even difficult to prepare. The good news is that while additions such as sherry and brandy do add a little extra something to the flavor of the bisque, they are by no means essential ingredients and a more than acceptable version of this dish can definitely be prepared at considerably reduced cost and in a way which is well within the capabilities of almost all home cooks. 

Easy Lobster Bisque
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Lobster bisque

This recipe takes several hours to prepare from start to finish. For this reason, I made the initial version of the stock one night and refrigerated it and the cooked lobster to make the bisque proper the following evening. If you do have the time and wish to make it all in one day, that is equally acceptable.

Ingredients for Basic Stock

Fresh Lobster Tail
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Fresh lobster tail

This recipe makes approximately double the amount of stock required for making the bisque. The excess can be frozen in a suitable container for up to three months for inclusion in any one of a variety of potential seafood recipes.

  • 1 whole lobster tail
  • 4 pints cold water
  • Salt
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ small leek stem
  • 1 medium size and strength green chili
  • 1 medium size and strength red chili
  • 3 or 4 large stems flat leaf parsley, stalks and leaves
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Directions for Stock Base

Poaching Lobster Tails
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Poaching whole lobster tail

I previously detailed a really easy way of calculating the exact cooking time required for a lobster tail on my Potted Lobster Tail Recipe page. In simple summary, the tail requires to be cooked for one minute per ounce in weight so do make every effort to have the tail weighed for you if you don't have a set of kitchen scales at home.

Measure out four pints (eight cups) of cold water in to a pot. Season with a teaspoon of salt and bring to a rolling boil. Carefully add the lobster tail, reduce the heat and simmer as gently as possible for the calculated cooking time. This six ounce tail took six minutes. 

Cooling Lobster Tail
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cooling poached lobster tail quickly

When the lobster tail is almost done, three-quarters fill a medium to large bowl with cold water. Add a small handful of ice cubes. Lift the cooked lobster tail from the poaching liquid with a large slotted spoon and submerge it in the iced water for about a minute. Turn the heat off under the pot and set aside. The water is the basis of your stock.

Swimmerets Removed from Lobster Tail
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Swimmerets are firstly removed from lobster tail

Lift the part cooled lobster tail to a large plate. It should be cool enough to handle. It may well be that the swimmerets have already been removed from the lobster tail before you make your purchase. These are small, bony flippers found on the underside of the tail. If they are still present, remove and set to one side for inclusion in the next stage of the stock making. They will fall off virtually at a touch.

Tines on Lobster Tail are Cut
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tines of lobster tail are cut and first shell half removed

If you simply wish to cut the tail in half along its length with a sharp knife to remove the shell, that's fine, but I prefer to use scissors. You will see some small cross spars/tines on the underside of the shell. Cut through them using robust kitchen scissors and pull one side of the shell gently free.

Lobster Tail Removed from Shell
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Lobster tail flesh removed from shell

The second half of the shell should equally easily pull free.

Skin Removed from Lobster Tail Meat
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Skin is peeled from lobster tail

The orange skin on the lobster tail is entirely edible but I prefer to remove it for presentation purposes. It can be left in place if you wish. Put the lobster tail in to a suitable dish and set aside, or refrigerate overnight if choosing to make the bisque over a two day period.

Lobster Shell Returned to Pot
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Lobster shell returned to pot

The lobster shell halves and any swimmerets should be returned to the pot of poaching water.

Stock Vegetables
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Vegetables for making lobster stock

As with almost any stock, the vegetables used for making lobster stock are variable. The opportunity can even be taken to use up vegetables lying around in your fridge. For this principal and initial stage of the stock making process, I chose to use a carrot, an onion, half a leek stem I had in the fridge and a red and green chili. The chilies came from my freezer where I always keep a box of them but did not require to be defrosted before being used.

Simmering Lobster Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Lobster stock is simmered long and slow

Top and tail the carrot, wash it and roughly chop. Peel and quarter the onion. Wash the leek stem and roughly chop. Cut the tops off the chilies and discard before roughly chopping. Add them all to the pot, along with the parsley and black peppercorns. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water reaches a simmer. Cover the pot, reduce the heat and maintain a very gentle simmer for two hours.

Straining Lobster Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Lobster stock is strained through a sieve

When the stock is done, suspend a fine sieve over a large, heatproof bowl and use a ladle (to prevent splashing) to pass the stock through the sieve and effectively remove all the solids. The shell and vegetables should be discarded. It is at this stage that the stock could be cooled and refrigerated overnight.

Ingredients for Lobster Bisque (Serves 2)

  • 2 cups of freshly made lobster stock
  • ½ cup white wine (Chardonnay was used in this recipe)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ cup heavy cream (double cream, UK)
  • Lobster tail
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leafed parsley, plus 2 large leaves to garnish
  • Salt and pepper
Lobster Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Freshly made lobster stock

Pour the stock and white wine in to a large pot. Top and tail the carrot and celery stick, wash and roughly chop. Peel and quarter the onion. Add the vegetables to the pot, cover and bring to a simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain again through a fine sieve over a suitable bowl and discard the vegetables. Pour the strained stock back in to the pot.

Cream added to Stock
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cream is added to lobster stock

Pour the cream in to the stock, stir well and bring back to a gentle simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid should very slightly thicken.

Chopped Lobster Tail and Parsley
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chopped lobster tail and parsley

Turn the heat off under the pot. Moderately finely chop the lobster tail meat and add it to the pot with the chopped parsley. Stir well. Carefully taste the bisque and adjust the seasoning if required.

Lobster Bisque
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Lobster bisque

Ladle the bisque in to two serving bowls and garnish with the parsley leaves.