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How to Make Lobster Bisque From Shells

How to Make Lobster Bisque From Shells


While many Americans think of lobster bisque as a classic New England dish, it actually originates in France. Much loved by people all over the world, lobster bisque is a creamy, lobster-rich meal that imparts a deep flavor reminiscent of days gone by.

Knowing how to make lobster bisque from shells will allow you to add a rich depth of flavor and authentic touch. Many home cooks also enjoy using all parts of the lobster to create layers of flavor from the stock through to the final dish. If you’re looking to up your cooking game with knowledge, unique tips, and the best lobster bisque recipe, then keep reading!

What is Lobster Bisque?

Lobster bisque is a simple seafood dish that can be prepared in about an hour. Lobster bisque didn’t always have the “posh” reputation that it enjoys today. In fact, it was invented from a common, everyday dish known as “pottage.” Starting in the 17th century, lobster lovers began to transform bisque into a more recognizable version of its modern incarnation by adding new ingredients and honing the cooking techniques. 

At heart, lobster bisque is similar to many stew recipes that were often made by coastal communities and fishermen who needed to get the most out of every ingredient, and sometimes stretch meals for weeks at a time.

The traditional definition of a bisque is a creamy soup made from shellfish and thickened with rice, flour, or components from the shellfish. In fact, the French origins of the word bisque are thought to be derived from a combination of the words “bis,” meaning “again,” and “cuites,” meaning cooked. After all, the slow cooking and blending of flavors is the essence of most traditional soups and stews. 

What are the Benefits of Making Lobster Bisque from Leftover Shells?

Using leftover lobster shells to make bisque is a traditional method of cooking that has been preserved for generations. Additionally, it’s one of the best lobster shell uses, which is important for ensuring none of the lobster is wasted. The primary reason that leftover lobster shells are used when making bisque is to enhance the flavor of the dish. Lobster shells, especially when ground or crushed, can provide a much stronger lobster flavor. 

The Best Lobster Bisque Recipe 

Recipes for lobster bisque vary widely, but they all rely on the same basic ingredients and methods. We believe the secret to the best lobster bisque recipe is found in sticking to the tried and true flavors and time tested techniques. Below is our recommendation on how to make lobster bisque from shells.

Key ingredients

  1. Cooked or uncooked lobster
  2. Onion
  3. Carrot 
  4. Celery
  5. Garlic
  6. Butter
  7. Ground rice or flour
  8. Tomato paste
  9. White wine
  10. Cream

Basic Recipe

  1. If your lobster is already cooked, separate the tail meat from the shell and refrigerate the shell meat until it’s ready to be added to the bisque.
  2. If your lobster is not cooked, bring lightly salted water to a boil and add the lobster. Let it boil for approximately 5 minutes before removing.  
  3. Save the water used to boil the lobster. This water might look dirty, but it’s not! It’s actually full of nutrients and flavor that should be used for a seafood stock that will be the base of the bisque.
  4. Add celery, carrot, and onion to a pan with a little bit of olive oil or butter and cook for several minutes (until soft).  
  5. Add tomato paste and garlic to the pan and let cook until the vegetables are slightly caramelized. Fresh herbs like bay leaf and thyme can be added
  6. Do a fast sautee of the shells in butter before adding them to the broth (or before adding them to the stock if that was cooked previously). 
  7. Thicken the bisque using either rice or flour. Though rice is often considered to be a “classic” thickener, flour may make your bisque smoother. Use cream to gently blend in the flour, and be sure to add it evenly to avoid clumping.
  8. Now, begin to add your stock and white wine, which will truly take the flavors to another level. 
  9. Finish the bisque by pureeing or blending the entire mixture (before adding lobster meat). Rewarm the bisque and add lobster meat before serving.   

Additional Tips

  1. Much like marinades, bisque can seriously benefit from sitting and letting the flavors blend together before eating. Try chilling in the fridge overnight, then eating the next day.
  2. If you haven’t eaten the lobster meat separately, it can be added directly to the bisque to add texture, protein, and more succulent lobster flavor to your dish. 
  3. Grinding lobster shells for bisque is a classic technique, and one that requires a little bit more work than the average dish. When it was first invented, bisque was often made using a paste created from crustacean shells. You can enrich the flavor of your dish by grinding lobster shells for bisque and then straining them out after cooking is finished. Many cooks swear that the crushed shells impart even more flavor! 

Other Lobster Shell Uses

Lobsters have more uses than just making lobster bisque from leftover shells. For those of you who value using each part of a creature that has been killed, we’ve curated a few suggestions for using lobster shells to help improve the health of soil and animals. 

Lobster shells are high in calcium, nitrogen, and magnesium. Their high levels of nutrition and slow decomposition rate made them great for composting. Lobster shells can also be used as a grit substitute for animals like chickens, which rely on calcium-rich substitutes as a key part of their diet. 

Where to Buy Fresh Lobster

Pure Food Fish Market has been providing fresh, high-quality seafood to customers for generations. You can order jumbo lobster tails directly from our website. At 1.5 to 2 pounds each, these succulent lobster tails are ready to cook and enjoy with friends and family!

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