Kevin’s Lobster Bisque Soup

4.88 from 8 votes

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My lobster bisque soup features fresh lobster meat in creamy stock made from lobster shells. Make this recipe for a flavorful holiday soup!

overhead image: lobster bisque in white bowl on blue linen napkin

What is a bisque?

A bisque is a smooth, creamy soup with origins from France, Traditionally, a bisque was considered a bisque only if it included seafood (typically lobster, shrimp, prawns, or other crustaceans. Also, rather than relying on a roux to thicken the soup stock, a traditional lobster bisque was thickened by blending rice into a strained stock made from lobster shells.

These days, there are other types of bisque, such as tomato; one of the more popular versions. Most are thickened with a combination of roux and heavy cream, for better stability.

In an effort to make the best lobster bisque recipe possible, I prepare it old-school style, using a lobster stock made from shells. I also thicken the lobster bisque soup with rice for a better flavor and consistency.

fresh whole lobster, claws wrapped

Lobster bisque soup

This restaurant quality gourmet lobster bisque recipe is one that I adapted from James Sakatos, the former executive chef at Carlyle’s restaurant in NYC. Deliciously and indulgently rich, it’s a bisque worthy of serving for special occasions like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day.

First things first; live lobsters do not scream when you boil them. That’s an old wives tale.

The truth is, the noise you might hear when you place a live lobster into its cooking liquid is actually trapped air escaping the shell. When the air heats up and expands, it is forced out through small gaps in the shell. So, now you can now rest easy!

Ingredient notes and substitutions

  • Lobster

For an incredible, nuanced-flavored soup, using fresh lobster is a must. Don’t be afraid, these guys come with strong rubber bands to hold the claws together. You’re safe. 🙂

If you can’t use fresh lobster, frozen shell-on, whole lobster will be fine. The flavor won’t be as fresh, but it’ll still be darned tasty.

  • Long grain rice

Be sure to use traditional, long grain white rice. Do not use converted rice, also known as quick cooking rice. The texture of pureed converted rice is too grainy. As a result, the consistency of the lobster bisque soup will be grainy.

steamed whole lobster for soup

Lobster bisque recipe instructions

Making a lobster stock from shells isn’t difficult, but it does take about an hour. Trust me, though; the flavor of a homemade stock can’t be compared to anything you could buy already prepared. It’s how restaurant chefs prepare a gourmet lobster bisque!

Rather than boiling lobster I prefer steam cooking. This way, the strained liquid for the stock isn’t as diluted.

If you’d like a more humane way to cook the live lobster, place them in the freeze it for 15 minutes and they’ll go to sleep. Forever. Then, transfer them to the fridge to thaw before you cook them.

How to remove lobster meat

After the lobster is steamed, place it onto a bowl full of ice cubes to let it cool slightly before you try to crack open the shells.


Use cooking tongs or wear kitchen gloves when adding and removing lobster from the pot. #NoBurns

To break down a lobster:

Use a large cutting board, with grooves to catch any liquid. That goodness will become part of the lobster bisque soup!

  1. Twist the claws and tail to remove them.
  2. Crack open the knuckles and claws. Use the side of a chef’s knife or a nutcracker to crack open the shells. To remove the meat, use a small seafood fork or your fingers.
  3. Crack open the tail. Set the tail shell side up on a hard surface. Then, use your hand to press down and crack the shell. Remove the tail meat and slice it in half lengthwise to remove and discard the black intestinal vein.

Making lobster stock

After the meat is removed from the shell, set it aside and place the shells into the pot with a mirepoix of vegetables. This fancy French word is what we call a combination of sauteed carrot, celery and onion. It’s also known as the French trinity.

making lobster bisque soup in large pot

All of the seasonings will go into the pot with a bit of alcohol and clam juice. Tomato paste is stirred in to help thicken and flavor the stock, and then, you wait. The lobster bisque soup broth will simmer for about an hour, creating a rich flavorful stock for the bisque.

After cooking, you’ll strain the stock to separate out the solids. The lobster shells can be thrown in the trash. They did their job, thanks for coming.

overhead: ladle of creamy seafood soup in large pot

Making the lobster bisque

To thicken the bisque soup, this recipe calls for rice. It’s added to the pot and steamed for 30 minutes, then the entire mixture is blended in a food processor or blender until smooth.

To create a rich, creamy soup, you’ll add a touch of cream and then it’s time to add the delicious, succulent steamed lobster chunks.

lobster bisque in white bowl with fresh lobster claw on top

Serving and storing lobster bisque soup

Like any good soup, the best side is always loaf of crusty bread, potato rolls, or yeast rolls. Lobster bisque is great as a starter course or appetizer. Or, you can add a side salad to make it a complete meal.

A fresh seafood soup like this is fantastic, but the shelf life is very short. I recommend storing any leftover bisque in the fridge for no longer than 2-3 days.

Unfortunately, bisques and other creamy soups do not freeze well.

Perhaps that’s a sign to enjoy a second helping right away. 😉

spoon dipping into bowl of homemade lobster bisque soup

This post, first published on Kevin Is Cooking Dec. 15, 2018, was last updated with new content on Nov. 18, 2021.

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overhead image: lobster bisque in white bowl on blue linen napkin

Kevin’s Lobster Bisque Soup

4.88 from 8 votes
My lobster bisque soup features fresh lobster meat in creamy stock made from lobster shells. Make this recipe for a flavorful holiday soup!
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 40 minutes



Cook Lobster

  • Bring 2 inches of water and salt to a boil over high heat in an 8 to 10 quart stockpot. 
    Using metal tongs or gloves and place the live lobsters head first into the pot. Return to a heavy boil, turn heat down to a rolling boil and steam lobsters covered for 9 minutes for the first pound, and add 4 minutes for each additional pound. 
    Shells of lobsters will be bright red when fully cooked. Remove with metal tongs or gloves and place in ice water bath, or allow to cool for 3-5 minutes before removing meat from shell. Reserve 1 cup of the steaming liquid.

Make Lobster Stock

  • Twist lobster claws and tails off over a large bowl. Using the side of a kitchen knife or nutcracker, crack the knuckles and claws and remove lobster meat, reserving any liquid that comes out of the shells into bowl and any from cutting board.
    Set the tail on a hard surface and use your hand to press down and crack the shell. Remove the tail meat and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the black intestinal vein and discard.
    Coarsely chop the meat, cover with wrap and refrigerate. Roughly chop the shells along with all the lobster remains into small pieces and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic and herbs. Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    Add the lobster shells and reserved liquid. Cook for 6 minutes and add tomato paste and cayenne pepper, cook another 4 minutes.
  • Add the sherry (ignite or cook for alcohol to evaporate), seafood stock or clam juice and 1 cup of reserved lobster-steaming liquid.
    Bring to a simmer, cover pan and cook for 1 hour. Strain the broth through a colander/sieve, pressing down hard on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.


  • Wipe out the pot and add the broth and rice. Bring to a boil, cover pot and cook on low for 30 minutes, or until the grains are cooked and VERY soft.
    Blend the bisque using an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor, then strain through sieve again (optional). Add cream and bring to a low simmer. Add chopped lobster meat and heat through. Season to taste with salt and serve topped with chopped parsley.


  1. Two live lobsters weigh about 3 pounds total, depending on size. Can substitute with frozen whole shell-on lobster. Thaw under cold running tap water and use immediately.
  2. Do not use any type of converted rice as the soup consistency will not be smooth.
  3. Adapted from a recipe by James Sakatos.


Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 2303mg | Potassium: 813mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3562IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 252mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Soups
Cuisine: Melting Pot
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image: lobster bisque soup - kevin is cooking


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. My guess is that everyone has made this with sherry rather than sherry vinegar. If you use 1 1/2 cups of sherry vinegar, you’ve made sewage because it’s going down the drain. Sherry, a candy wine, and its vinegar, are not interchangeable in equal amounts.

    Fortunately I caught this before I put the lobster in and made a great salad with it. But my stock from making three lobsters the day before is now at the sewage treatment plant instead of in my belly.

    Thanks Kevin.

    1. Sorry to read that was your experience, sherry vinegar is quite the opposite of the cooking sherry (fortified wine) indeed! Hope you give it a try, the bisque is amazing.

  2. 5 stars
    RESULTS: This recipe rocks!!!! Changes: Added 1.25 cups of cooking sherry + 1 tsp sugar (good sherry was not available) to replace 1.5 cups of Sherry. Added 1/4 cups of toasted slivered almonds to fill in the broth flavor because I did not have enough small lobster tails (needed 2 more). Used 1/4 cups of long-grain rice instead of 1/2 cup. Using cooked rice as a thickener is a wonderful idea. I learned something today