Lobster Bisque

 

For the soup

Shells, heads, legs etc. from 2 – 3 lobsters

Olive oil

½ fennel bulb, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

6 – 8 sprigs fresh thyme

1 or 2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons tomato paste

Cognac

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups lobster stock

1 cup cream

Salt and pepper

 

To serve

The meat from 2 – 3 steamed lobsters; slice the tails, keep the claws and knuckles intact

½ to 1 pound steamed mussels

2 cups sautéd Swiss chard

Thick slices of grilled or toasted bread

 

1.     Drizzle several glugs of olive oil in a large heavy stockpot and set over medium heat.

2.    Add the lobster shells and brown for 2 – 3 minutes.

3.    Add fennel, onion, celery, carrot, thyme and bay leaves, and cook until the vegetables are soft, 8 – 10 minutes.

4.    Add the tomato paste, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the paste darkens in color.

5.    Add the cognac and light with a stick lighter or long match; Be careful with this step – you may want to take the pan off the heat to add the alcohol.

6.    Once the cognac burns off, add the butter and flour, and cook for 5 minutes.

7.    Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  The soup should thicken.

8.    Add the cream, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

9.    Set a chinois or large strainer over a bowl and strain the soup, pressing down on the vegetables to extract all the juices.  Discard the solids and set the soup in a saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set on low heat to keep warm.

10.  To serve, place a small mound of Swiss chard in the center of each soup bowl; arrange 3 – 4 mussels and several pieces of lobster meat around the chard.

11.  For a nice presentation, you might bring the bowls to the table, along with a tray of grilled bread slices and a pitcher with the soup; alternatively you can complete the plating in the kitchen.

12.  Pour the soup around the chard and shellfish, garnish with slices of grilled bread and serve.