A creamy, smooth seafood bisque is made with shrimp, scallops and crab meat. Fresh cream, white wine and generous spicy seasonings lend this seafood bisque a touch of old world charm.
What Is Seafood Bisque?
Traditional bisque, with its French roots is a highly seasoned, smooth and creamy soup made with fresh ingredients, seafood stock and crustaceans. Traditionally, French bisque was thickened with biscuits, hence the name of this culinary delight. Most recipes now recommend a roux-based thickener, while it is rare to find a bisque recipe made with biscuits.
A classic seafood bisque recipe includes crustaceans, such as shrimp, lobster and crab. Moreover, the crustacean shells are cooked with the seafood stock; the shells add a distinct flavor to the bisque. All of these factors distinguish seafood bisque from gourmet seafood chowder.
Variations of Bisque Recipes
This elegant and flavorful soup has developed many twists from its classical French roots. There are recipes for crawfish bisque, oyster bisque and clam and salmon bisques. Vegetable and legume bisque’s, such as Tomato, Squash and Peanut Bisque are very pleasing as well. Moreover, there are a variety of seafood bisque recipes hailing from many regions of the world. Not surprisingly, Cajun Crab Bisque is a favorite in the southern regions of the United States. In Canada, French Acadian roots run deep with Acadian French Bisque's, such as Tomato-Crab Bisque with croutons.
Southern Seafood Bisque Recipe
This flavorful recipe is true to its hot and spicy southern roots with ingredients like shrimp, crab, cayenne and Tabasco to turn up the heat.
- 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
- 2 tablespoons flour (optional)
- 2 cups seafood stock or clam juice
- 1/4 cup leeks or scallions, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup celery, chopped
- 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 pound shrimp, shells peeled and reserved
- 1/2 pound crab meat or crab legs, shells peeled and reserved
- 1/2 pound scallops, meat
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 dash Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- In a large pot, add water and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the crab and shrimp to the water and cook until the shells are red and all meat is opaque. Strain the solids and set aside in ice water. Set aside one cup of the liquid to cool.
- Remove the claws from each crab, reserve the juices and refrigerate the claws. Remove the shell and tail from each shrimp and crab; refrigerate the meat for future use.
- Finely chop the seafood shells and set aside with the seafood juices. Alternatively, grind the shells into a fine or slightly course powder to minimize straining the liquid later.
- In a large heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the crustacean shells and fresh scallops and lightly cook shells and meat until lightly brown. Remove the scallops and set aside.
- Add the scallions and celery and sauté the vegetables until almost tender, slowly stir in the flour and continue stirring until the roux is a nutty brown. Add the white wine into the pan and simmer until the wine is almost evaporated.
- Fold in the seafood stock (or clam juice), seafood water and juices, add the cayenne, Tabasco and Old Bay Seasoning and simmer the soup for one hour.
- Strain the remaining solids from the seafood bisque and return soup to pan, add the heavy cream and salt to taste and heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss in the scallops and simmer for five minutes.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
- 12 ounces of lobster, crab, shrimp, clam or scallops, meat or shells
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorn, whole
- 2 quarts of water
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the shrimp and crab shells (or other seafood meat) in butter with onion, carrot, celery and garlic for two minutes. Add the dry white wine and simmer until shells are bright red and vegetables are softened.
- In a second saucepan, add the water, chopped tomatoes, peppercorns and herbs. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Fold seafood mixture into the stock base; simmer until stock is reduced by half (at least an hour). Add the coarse salt to taste.
- With a colander, strain the solids from the stock several times. Refrigerate the seafood stock for up to four days or freeze in airtight containers.
Alternatives to Try
If you find you have limited time to make stock from scratch, use an alternative, such as clam juice. For those allergic to clams, try caper juice instead. Another idea is to reserve the liquid juices from tins of salmon, tuna or oysters. There is nothing like soup stock from scratch, but any seafood or fish stock will do in most instances.