Lobster bisque

Serves 4 Starters and mains

Lobster Bisque



  • 2 x approx. 500g lobsters
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 250g carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • small pinch saffron threads
  • 1⁄2tsp paprika
  • 1⁄2tsp cayenne
  • 2tbsp tomato purée
  • 4tbsp dry sherry
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 200ml white wine
  • 750ml lobster cooking water or shellfish or fish stock
  • 25g butter
  • 2tbsp double cream
  • chives, finely snipped, to serve
  • very thinly sliced sourdough, toasted, to serve


To kill the lobster, put it in the freezer for 1 hour. Bring a pan of water, big enough to hold both lobsters and water to cover, to the boil and add 1tbsp sea salt flakes for each litre of water. Add the lobsters and boil for 6 minutes until the black shells turn bright red. Turn off the heat and, using tongs, remove the lobsters and plunge them into a sink full of very cold water. Reserve 750ml of the cooking liquid to make the bisque.

When cool enough to handle, place one lobster at a time on a chopping board. Twist off the head and the large claws. Remove and discard the feathery soft, claw-like bits (known as dead man’s fingers) from the head. Put the head and claws in a dish in the fridge until ready to eat. Turn the tail upside down and snip through the small claws either side of the tail shell with kitchen scissors. Carefully remove the tail meat in one piece.

When you are ready to make the bisque, remove as much meat as you can from the head and discard the grey-greenish fatty substance (called tomalley, it is the liver and pancreas of the lobster and can store a cocktail of toxic chemicals). The roe is the longer darker strip that is fine to eat, so add this to the stock after shelling the lobsters.

Crack the larger part of the claws with the back of a heavy cook’s knife or mallet and remove the meat. Break up the shells and head into small pieces and set aside for the bisque.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, fennel, thyme and saffron. Fry for around 7 minutes, then add the paprika, cayenne and 1tsp freshly ground black pepper. Add the reserved shells and fry for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée, sherry, tomatoes, white wine and the stock. Partly cover the pan, bring to a simmer, then tip it all into the pan with the reserved lobster cooking water.

Cut the lobster meat into neat pieces, reserving 4 of the nicest shaped pieces to garnish.

Put the remainder into the pan containing the shells, vegetables and stock. Simmer for 45 minutes. Process the bisque in a blender to break up the pieces of shell and the vegetables. Pass everything through a fine sieve into a clean pan, leaving it to drain through for a few minutes.

Divide among warmed bowls. Heat the butter, add the reserved lobster meat pieces and toss until warmed through. Add one piece lobster tail to each serving. Mix the double cream with 3tbsp bisque to make it pale pink and spoon it around the lobster tail. Scatter with chives and serve with the toasted sourdough.

Photography and prop styling: Angela Dukes. Food styling and recipes: Linda Tubby.
Lobster Bisque
Photography and prop styling: Angela Dukes. Food styling and recipes: Linda Tubby.


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