Lobster Bisque Recipe


4 (1 1/4–pound; 560g) live lobsters

1 (4-ounce; 115g) stick unsalted butter, plus more for garnish

1/3 cup (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium carrots (about 12 ounces; 340g), diced

2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound; 450g), diced

4 large celery ribs (about 6 ounces; 170g), diced

4 medium cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons (25g) tomato paste

1/4 cup (60ml) brandy

1 cup (240ml) dry white wine

5 cups (1.2L) homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth

3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus minced leaves and tender stems for garnish

3 sprigs tarragon, plus minced leaves for garnish

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground white or black pepper

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Minced fresh chives, for garnish

Ground coriander seeds, to taste


Using a hefty chef’s knife, kill each lobster by pressing the tip of the knife in the indentation just behind and between the eyes. Press down firmly, then split head in half. Using kitchen towels, twist off tail and claws (including knuckles) from each lobster carapace.

Set a cutting board in a rimmed baking sheet on a work surface. Place a steamer insert in the bottom of a large lidded stockpot and add 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add lobster tails, cover, and cook for 2 minutes 30 seconds. Remove tails and transfer to cutting board. Make sure water is still at a full boil, then add claws, cover pot, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove claws and transfer to cutting board. Reserve water in bottom of steamer; it will now be infused with lobster juices.

As soon as lobster is cool enough to handle, remove tail, claw, and knuckle meat from shells using kitchen shears, lobster crackers, and/or the back of a heavy cleaver to help crack shells. (It’s okay if the meat gets a little mangled.) Reserve shells; separately reserve any accumulated liquids in the rimmed baking sheet. Cut lobster meat into 1-inch pieces and transfer to the refrigerator.

Using a heavy chef’s knife, cut lobster bodies into large pieces (do not discard any parts).

In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, combine butter with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until butter is fully melted and foaming. Add just enough lobster bodies and shells to cover bottom of pot in a single layer and cook, stirring and scraping, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add remaining lobster bodies and shells and cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until all lobster pieces are bright red, fully cooked, and browning on bottom of pot, about 8 minutes longer.

Add carrot, onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pot, until vegetables are beginning to soften and a new layer of browning has formed on bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

Add brandy (be careful if working over a gas flame not to accidentally ignite it) and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pot, until brandy has mostly evaporated and raw alcohol smell has cooked off. Add white wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until alcohol smell has cooked off.

Add reserved lobster-steaming water and collected lobster juices (you should have around 3 or 4 cups lobster liquid) along with chicken stock. There should be just enough liquid to barely cover shells; if not, add enough water to barely cover. Add parsley sprigs, tarragon sprigs, and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Strain lobster stock, pressing well on shells to extract as much liquid as possible; reserve solids. Working in batches if necessary, add lobster stock to a blender. Pick out about 2 cups cooked aromatic vegetables from reserved stock solids and add to blender. Add cream and blend, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed, until soup is completely smooth. Repeat with any remaining lobster stock. If you want the broth even thicker, blend in more aromatic vegetables from stock (or cooked rice; see notes).

Pass blended soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, using a wooden spoon or ladle to work everything through; you should be left with only some tiny bits of lobster shell caught in the strainer when you’re done. (This can be a slow process, but it’s worth it to eliminate any shell remnants.)

Reheat soup, being careful not to let it boil to avoid curdling the cream. Season with salt and pepper, plus just enough cayenne pepper to give the soup a subtle warmth (it shouldn’t be overtly spicy). Keep warm.

When ready to serve, melt about 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter per serving in a skillet over medium-high heat until foaming. Add lobster meat (about 1/4 cup per serving) and cook, stirring and tossing, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add a mixture of minced parsley, tarragon, and chives, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper, along with a pinch or two of ground coriander to taste.

Ladle broth into warmed bowls and spoon lobster meat garnish and herb butter into each bowl. If you don’t serve it all right away, the soup base and reserved par-cooked lobster meat can be refrigerated, separately, up to 2 days. Reheat soup (without boiling) and finish remaining lobster meat as directed to serve.


This recipe uses the aromatics from the stockpot to thicken the soup broth, yielding a bisque that’s very smooth and creamy. If you like your bisque extra thick and starchy, you may want to blend in some cooked rice as well.

Nutrition Information:


Calories: 585
Total Fat: 45g
Saturated Fat: 20g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 258mg
Sodium: 1037mg
Total Carbohydrates: 11g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 4g
Protein: 32g

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use frozen lobster instead of live lobsters for this bisque?

While fresh live lobsters are preferred for optimal flavor, you can use frozen lobster tails as a substitute.

However, the taste and texture may differ slightly from using live lobsters.

Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for brandy in this recipe?

Yes, you can omit the brandy altogether or substitute it with an equal amount of non-alcoholic white wine or broth for a similar depth of flavor.

Can I make this bisque in advance and freeze it for later?

Yes, you can make the bisque ahead of time and freeze it for up to 2-3 months.

However, it’s best to freeze the soup base without the lobster meat garnish.

Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently on the stovetop before adding the cooked lobster meat.

What can I do with the leftover lobster shells and solids after straining the stock?

You can discard the shells and solids after straining the stock, as their flavor has been extracted.

Alternatively, some people use them to make seafood stock for other recipes.

Can I substitute heavy cream with a lighter alternative for a healthier version?

Yes, you can substitute heavy cream with a lighter alternative like half-and-half or whole milk for a slightly healthier option.

However, keep in mind that it may alter the richness and texture of the bisque.

Can I use lobster tails instead of whole lobsters for this bisque?

Yes, you can use lobster tails instead of whole lobsters.

Adjust the quantity accordingly, keeping in mind that you may need more tails to achieve the desired amount of meat.

What can I substitute for fresh tarragon if I can’t find it?

If fresh tarragon is unavailable, you can use dried tarragon as a substitute.

However, reduce the quantity to about one-third of the amount of fresh tarragon called for in the recipe, as dried herbs are more potent.

Can I prepare the lobster stock in advance and refrigerate it overnight?

Yes, you can prepare the lobster stock in advance and refrigerate it overnight.

This can actually enhance the flavor as it allows the ingredients to meld together.

Just be sure to strain and store the stock in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

What can I serve as a side dish with lobster bisque?

Lobster bisque pairs well with a variety of sides, such as crusty bread, garlic bread, oyster crackers, or a simple green salad with vinaigrette dressing.

Additionally, you can serve it alongside seafood appetizers or grilled vegetables for a complete meal.

Can I omit the brandy and white wine from the recipe?

Yes, you can omit the brandy and white wine from the recipe if desired.

However, they contribute to the depth of flavor in the bisque.

You may need to adjust the seasoning to compensate for the omitted ingredients.

Is it necessary to strain the soup after blending it?

Straining the soup after blending it helps to achieve a smooth and silky texture by removing any remaining lobster shell fragments and fibrous bits from the vegetables.

While it’s an extra step, it significantly improves the final consistency of the bisque.

Can I use lobster stock instead of chicken stock?

Yes, you can use lobster stock instead of chicken stock for a more intense lobster flavor.

If you have leftover lobster shells, you can simmer them with water and aromatics to make a homemade lobster stock.

Can I freeze leftover lobster bisque?

Yes, you can freeze leftover lobster bisque for up to 2-3 months.

However, it’s best to freeze the soup without the garnishes or lobster meat.

Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating it gently on the stovetop.

What adjustments can I make to the recipe to make it less spicy?

If you prefer a milder flavor, you can reduce or omit the cayenne pepper and adjust the amount of black or white pepper to taste.

Taste the bisque as you season it to ensure it meets your preference for spiciness.

Can I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth for a vegetarian version?

Yes, you can substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth to make a vegetarian version of lobster bisque.

However, keep in mind that the flavor profile may differ slightly, so you may need to adjust the seasonings accordingly.

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