Most lobster bisque recipes are rich, creamy and loaded with calories. JCCC chef apprentice Charles Armstrong has whipped up a flavorful bisque and made it more healthful to boot.
Skipping heavy cream and using low-fat milk significantly cuts the calories and saturated fat.
Armstrong says that using potatoes and parsnips instead of a heavy cream base is the key to the dish. “This gives it character,” Armstrong says. “It goes right to the taste buds and tongue.”
Armstrong grew up eating a shrimp-based bisque but decided to use lobster because it has a sweeter taste. Lobster is more lobster is more palatable, he says.
Armstrong also says a key aspect of this dish is blending all the ingredients in a blender, not a food processor.
It also is imperative to strain the soup with a chinois to extract all the lobster shell particles.
Lobster, fresh vegetables and potatoes make a low-fat, more healthful version of a classic bisque with plenty of rich body.
About the chef
Charles Armstrong is a nontraditional student who was enrolled in culinary classes in fall 2015.
About the stylist
Kaarin Nelson is a fourth semester interior design student at Johnson County Community College. She styled and propped the photo of Lighter Lobster Bisque.
About the column
Cooking 101 is a column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.
A Lighter Lobster Bisque
Makes 1 quart
2 cups white wine
2 cups fish stock
6 cups water
2 live lobsters
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup leeks, thinly sliced
1 cup fennel, diced
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 pounds lobster shells
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon cognac
1/4 cup uncooked brown rice
2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
1 cup russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 cup warm skim milk
Salt, as needed
Cayenne, as needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 sprigs tarragon, leaves removed and chopped
To make the lobster bisque: Place the wine, fish stock and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the lobsters to the liquid top-side down. Reduce the heat, cover and cook the lobsters for 8 minutes.
Using long tongs turn the lobsters over and cook for an additional 8 minutes.
Use the tongs to remove lobsters from the pot; reserve cooking liquid and set both aside. When lobsters are cool enough to handle, crack the shells with a meat mallet and remove meat from the tail and claw; reserve the lobster shells (you should have about 2 pounds of shell). Dice the meat and reserve.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the carrots, celery, leeks, fennel and garlic and saute for an additional 5 minutes, until tender. Crush the lobster shells with a mallet and add to the pot. Saute the shells over low heat for 15 minutes.
Add the tomato paste to the pot, cooking and stirring until the vegetables are tinged a reddish brown color. Add the cognac and flambé by lighting the top of the cooking liquid with a match or lighter, let it burn until flame is out.
Add the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Add the rice and simmer for 45 minutes, adding more liquid if needed.
To make the parsnip-potato puree: Boil the parsnips and the potatoes separately in salted water until done, about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain the vegetables; then purée through a food mill. Add the milk and butter and season to taste.
Working in batches, place the cooled lobster-vegetables cooking liquid in a blender, and blend on high for 5 minutes. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove all lobster shell.
In a clean pot, bring the liquid to boil. Whisk in the parsnip-potato purée while stirring to avoid any lumps; cook for about 10 minutes more.
To serve: Stir in 1 cup warm milk, salt, cayenne, lemon juice and tarragon leaves. Serve in heated bowls with diced lobster for garnish.
Per 1-cup serving: 535 calories (41 percent from fat), 20 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 44 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams protein, 537 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber.