Lobster bisque

Lobster bisque

French Lessons
2 litres
20 mins
Cooking time
40 mins
Steve Brown

You can make this bisque using the shells from lobster heads, which are available from fish markets and some fishmongers, or use the same recipe to make a prawn bisque. Buy fresh whole prawns and use the shells and heads for the soup base, then reserve the prawn meat to serve as a garnish, grilled or sautéed with a little butter.


Quantity Ingredient
2kg lobster heads or large whole prawns
50ml vegetable oil
150g butter
2 carrots, chopped to a large mirepoix, (see note)
1 onion, chopped to a large mirepoix, (see note)
2 celery stalks, chopped to a large mirepoix, (see note)
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
100ml white wine
50ml cognac, armagnac or cooking brandy
4 sprigs thyme
3 litres water
80ml cream
squeeze fresh orange juice


  1. Rinse the lobster heads well. Use kitchen scissors to cut them into small pieces and bash them roughly with a meat mallet to loosen as much meat as you can. This adds flavour to the soup.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based roasting pan. Add the crushed lobster pieces and sauté until bright pink and lightly caramelised. Add 100 g of the butter, the vegetable mirepoix and garlic. Sauté for another 10 minutes, until everything is aromatic and coloured. Add the tomato paste, stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pan, stirring well. Add the Cognac (reserving a splash to finish the soup) and the thyme.
  3. Add the water and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent the shells sticking and burning.
  4. Strain the soup through a sieve, pushing forcefully with the back of the ladle to extract as much of the juice and pulp as you can. Pass through a finer sieve and return to a clean saucepan over a medium heat. Use a whisk or hand blender to whisk in the remaining butter and the cream. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve immediately with an extra splash of Cognac and fresh orange juice, or transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate. The butter, cream, Cognac and orange juice should be added just before serving.
  5. This bisque will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2 days or up to 2 months in the freezer.


  • A mirepoix is a rough dice of vegetables which are to be used to enhance the flavour of stocks, soups and sauces. Traditionally a mirepoix consists of carrot, onion, leek and celery, and sometimes fennel and garlic. A white mirepoix is used for white stocks, and contains no carrot.
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