This Lobster Bisque recipe is lusciously rich and creamy loaded with buttery lobster in every aromatic bite. It’s always impressive and worthy of special occasions (Valentine’s Day!) or company AND is make ahead friendly using my par-boil lobster method. You can serve as a heavenly entrée or a show-stopping starter but it’s always SO worth the time to make. Homemade Lobster Bisque can be intimidating and expensive to make but I’ve streamlined the process and made it WAY less expensive by using lobster tails and walked you through with step by step photos, tips and tricks. The resulting Lobster Bisque recipe is velvety smooth, deeply rich, flavorful and oh so satisfying. If you’re not sure you are a Lobster Bisque fan, this recipe will convert you!
Servings 4 servings
- 1 pound cold water lobster tails freshly thawed
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced (I use my food processor)
- 2 carrot diced (I use my food processor)
- 3 celery stalks diced (I use my food processor)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3-4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried tarragon
- 1/2 tsp tsp EACH dried thyme, paprika
- 2 1/2 cups clam juice (2 8 oz. bottles)
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 cups half and half
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Par-Boil lobster tails
Fill a large stockpot or Dutch oven half way up with water. Bring to a boil then season with ½ tablespoon salt. (While I’m waiting for the water to boil, I chop my veggies in the food processor). Reduce heat slightly and keep water at a gentle boil. Carefully add lobster tails and boil just until tails turn red, about 2-4 minutes depending on size. We don’t want to cook the lobster meat all the way because we are going to sauté it in butter later. Remove tails with tongs or a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Reserve 1 cup liquid and discard the rest.
Place the lobsters belly sided own on a cutting board. Use a sharp pair of kitchen shears to cut straight down the middle of the shell from the head to the fin. Pry the shells open with your fingers and remove the meat. Chop the meat into large bite-size pieces, cover and refrigerate. Cut the lobster shells with the kitchen shears into large pieces (about 3-inches).
Make lobster stock
Melt butter with olive oil over medium heat in the now empty pot. Add lobster shells and cook for 2 minutes to develop the flavor. Stir in onions, celery, carrots, salt and pepper and cook an additional 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, tarragon, parsley, thyme, paprika and garlic; cook one minute. Add clam juice, chicken broth and bay leaves; cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce to a simmer over medium-low for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally (it will be thick).
Add soup back to the stockpot. Stir in cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer until it reaches desired consistency. For a thinner soup, stir in some reserved lobster stock. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I like more pepper). At this point you can refrigerate or continue if ready to serve.
Heat lobster in butter
When ready to serve, melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add lobster meat and season with freshly cracked salt and pepper. Cook while stirring, just until coated in butter and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.
Tips and Tricks
- Use cold lobster tails. As previously discussed in detail, use cold water lobster tails as opposed to warm lobster tails for reliable quality meat.
- Shortcut ALERT!: Chopping the celery, onions and carrots is the most time consuming prep for this Lobster Bisque recipe, but the mirepoix is so worth it. To save time you can chop all your veggies in advance or you can purchase mirepoix by the jar and keep it in your refrigerator OR use our food processor! I LOVE using my food processor this recipe because all of the veggies are going to be pureed anyway.
- Tomato Paste: This Lobster Bisque recipe only uses three tablespoons tomato paste. I often don’t use a whole can of tomato paste in a week, so I always freeze it by the tablespoon. To do this, place parchment paper on a small baking sheet or plate – something that can easily fit in your freezer. Drop tomato paste by the tablespoon on parchment paper a few inches apart in rows then freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Cut a grid around the tomato paste so each tablespoon has its own parchment square. Wrap up the parchment paper around the tomato paste and place in a plastic bag. Freeze for up to 6 months, taking out one tablespoon of tomato paste as needed.
- Don’t overcook lobster. When par-boiling the lobster, our aim is to cook the lobster just enough so it easily pries away from the shell – we are not trying to cook the lobster all the way through. It is better for the lobster to be undercooked at this point because we are going to sauté the lobster in butter later.
- Sauté in butter just until opaque. The goal of sautéing the lobster in butter is to infuse it with flavor. If your lobster is already cooked from boiling, then just toss it in the butter and gently warm but don’t continue to cook or it will become rubbery. If your lobster is par-cooked, then cook in butter just until cooked through.
- Don’t cut shell pieces too small. We are going to pick out the shells (with the help of a colander later), so don’t cut them too small so they will be easier to remove.
- Don’t chop lobster meat too small. Chop the meat into about 1-inch pieces so it creates hearty, melt in your mouth pieces in every bite. Larger pieces will also be harder to overcook in the butter.
- Use a colander not a fine mesh sieve. Our goal of straining the lobster stock is to remove the lobster shells from the stock (which will basically reduce down to softened, uber flavor infused vegetables). The stock will be quite thick so if you try and force the stock through the holes of a fine mesh sieve and even the small bottom holes of a colander, it will take you 10X longer. So, make sure to tilt your colander and press the stock through the large side holes.
- Strain again. I skip this step but if you’re worried you’ve gotten some bits of shell into your stock, then you can strain the blended stock through a fine mesh sieve when returning to your stockpot.
- Use a high-powered blender. I highly recommend a high-powered blender verses an immersion blender to puree the Lobster Bisque. The immersion blender simply doesn’t create as gorgeously silky-smooth soup.
- Add lobster at last minute. Wait to sauté the lobster in butter just when you’re ready to serve so it doesn’t continue to cook any longer than necessary in the hot bisque.
- Keep lobster separate if making ahead. Store the lobster and the bisque separate airtight containers in the refrigerator if making ahead.
- Thicken to desired consistency. There is some wiggle room with the consistency because not all soups will reduce the same – some will have more liquid remaining, some will be super thick. Luckily, we can counteract this unknown by gently simmering the soup to desired consistency. Simply simmer longer if you would like a thicker soup and stop simmering as soon as it reaches desired consistency. If it becomes too thick, stir in some of the reserved lobster stock.
- Don’t boil. Gently simmer and don’t boil the pureed soup to prevent the dairy from separating or curdling.
- Season! If the Lobster Bisque tastes like its missing something after you add the lobster back in, it is probably additional salt and pepper. I add both! Season a little at a time until it tastes just right. If you like more of a kick, season with additional cayenne pepper.
Follow the recipe all the way up through thickening the soup. Store the soup base and par-cooked lobster meat separately in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready to make, gently reheat the soup on the stove and finish cooking the lobster in butter per recipe directions, then combine.