Lobster bisque

The first time I cooked lobster, I couldn’t eat it. At the time I thought it was the act of killing them that put me off. But now I think the fact that I foolishly held a lobster race on the kitchen floor to entertain my then two-year-old while the water heated was likely the real source of my unease.

Nowadays,  my kitchen is regularly the final stop for lobsters.  But they are treated with respect – I keep them in the bag until the last minute; we don’t play with them. There is still nothing elegant about the process, but it is done with dignity.

Here’s a bisque I made for a crowd last week.  It was loosely adapted from a recipe in the New York Times.

Lobster bisque


2 live lobsters

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, roughly chopped

2 ribs celery, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh tarragon

1 cup white wine

2 cups  clam juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 pinch of cayenne pepper.

Fill a stock pot with water and salt heavily. When the water is boiling add the lobsters – you can look away if you like. Boil gently for 10 minutes (you don’t want to over cook the lobster – the meat becomes rubbery). Remove the lobster meat and set aside. Keep the shells and other lobster bits for the stock.

Sauté the vegetables and herbs in a pan for five minutes and then add the lobster shells and carcass. Sauté for another few minutes. Add the wine and clam juice and some of the lobster-cooking water (2-3 cups). Reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour or so.

Strain the broth through a colander and return to the pot.  add the cream, the lobster meat and a pinch of saffron (mixed with a little hot water), salt to taste and a pinch of cayenne.


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