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Lobster Bisque a la Naturale

Lobster Bisque SoupOn Mother’s Day I enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared by my daughter-in-law, Michelle. The first course was this amazing Lobster Bisque. I was a little hesitant since I am not generally a fan of bisque – but this one is absolutely delicious! It is a perfect first course when entertaining; or could be served with warm crusty French bread and a crisp green salad for a wonderful lunch with friends. The preparation is a little complicated, but well worth it!

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#bd7f13″]Ingredients[/typography]

  • 2 lobster tails (10 oz. each), fresh (can substitute frozen  if completely thawed)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons quality virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups Chardonnay (or any good white wine)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup fennel, chopped
  • ½ cup shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons white rice, uncooked
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 whole sprig thyme
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#bd7f13″]Directions[/typography]

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px” color=”#bd7f13″]Step One (Can be completed in advance):[/typography]

Split the tails in half with a sharp knife starting at the fan and slice the knife down and through the meat.

Carefully devein the split tails. (The vein can be found along the edge of the shell, between the shell and the meat.)

Using a regular steaming basket, steam the lobster tails, shell-side down, over 4 cups salted water with 1 tablespoon sea salt. Steam for 5 to 7 minutes – remove the tails and set aside to cool slightly.

Set aside the water to use for making the stock.

Note: Steaming with the shells protects the meat from the intense heat of the steam and the salt in the water adds a little extra flavor to the stock.

When cool enough to handle, use a fork to pull out the meat from the shells in one piece. Chill the lobster meat until ready to use. Save the shells for Step Two.

When the meat has cooled, slice into pieces (size is personal preference).

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px” color=”#bd7f13″]Step Two:[/typography]

Sauté lobster shells in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat for five minutes to release the flavors. Use a large heavy-duty pot.

Add the Chardonnay and 1 cup of chicken stock to deglaze the pan (scraping bits at the bottom – do not remove the shells at this point).

Add the remaining 2 cups chicken stock and reserved lobster water from the steaming of the tails. Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to 6 cups. Then strain the shells from the stock.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px” color=”#bd7f13″]Step Three:[/typography]

While the stock is simmering prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Blanch the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for about 45 seconds, then peel, seed and dice them. (After blanching, the skin will pull away easily. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, then dice.)

Rinse and chop the fennel.

Peel and chop the shallot.

Sauté both in ¼ cup unsalted butter for about 5 minutes – use a large heavy pot.

Stir in strained lobster stock, diced tomato, brandy, uncooked white rice, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, whole bay leaf and sprig of thyme; simmer 45 minutes – remove bay leaf and thyme

Using either an immersion blender or regular blender, puree all the ingredients – blend until smooth.      (Please, read the notes on blending hot liquids, which can be found in the “Tips Section”)

Reheat over a low heat, if necessary. The heavy cream will cool it down.

Carefully stir in the heavy cream.

Add the fresh lemon juice , and the bisque is ready to be served – preferably in a heated tureen.

Just before you serve the soup – sauté the sliced lobster over medium-high heat in the extra tablespoon of unsalted butter. Sauté just until the meat is warmed through.

Place the lobster in the bisque and serve immediately –  garnish slightly with finely chopped fresh parsley

Yield: Makes 6 cups; double for a large group

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#bd7f13″]Recipe Tips[/typography]

Be safe when pureeing hot liquids. The process can be dangerous because steam causes pressure to build inside the blender and gushers of hot liquid can erupt if the blending is not done in small batches – and gradually blended from low to high speed. Recommendation is to puree in at least three batches and return the bisque to the pot to reheat.

An immersion blender is a little safer and easier to control, but you do not need one – a regular blender works fine.  An immersion blender makes the bisque a little thicker, and a regular blender creates a slightly smoother bisque.  They both taste great.

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