Bisque is a rich and creamy type of soup.
The tastiest bisques are made with the freshest ingredients available, although it is possible to make an acceptable bisque with some canned ingredients. Another critical element in preparing excellent bisques is cleaning all ingredients thoroughly under cool, fresh running water, getting rid of any traces of sand and grime. The presentation of these strong, thick soups is also important. They are excellent as a dinner soup, but they are so substantial that they can be served for lunch, alone or with a salad.
Oysters are usually left whole in the oyster bisque.
Traditionally, a bisque has a shellfish base, and the shells themselves are often an essential ingredient in this base. For example, the base of most lobster bisques is prepared by removing the meat from cooked lobster shells, then crushing the shells and boiling them with vegetables and seasonings. The broth is strained with this mixture and thickened, with the lobster meat cut into cubes or minced and returned to the soup to simmer for just a few minutes before serving.
Bisque is usually thickened with a roux.
Bisques are thickened with a wide variety of ingredients, with many recipes calling for multiple thickening agents. For example, an excellent oyster bisque recipe calls for milk, cream, and egg yolks as thickeners. Many bisques are thickened by a vegetable puree made by straining the well-cooked vegetables through a sieve. Flour, usually in the form of roux, is also a popular thickener for bisques, and bread crumbs are also found in some recipes. A tip that is well-known but often overlooked is that no soup or sauce should boil after adding any part of a raw egg to thicken it.
When making lobster bisque, many chefs use pieces of meat from the tail.
Many cooks use a blender to achieve the consistent creamy texture that characterizes most bisques, and this has become an acceptable practice. In some cases, shellfish meat is processed in a blender with the rest of the ingredients well-cooked. Some bisques, such as lobster and crab, are served with pieces of meat in the soup, these pieces are only added after any beating, for just a few moments of cooking. When preparing most oyster bisques, on the other hand, the delicate oysters are not cut and care is taken not to let them crumble before serving.
Shrimp bisque is a soup composed of shrimp puree with various vegetables.
Any good bisque should be served immediately after it is removed from the heat. For those times when it is necessary to reheat a previously chilled bisque, the soup should be heated in a bain-marie, in boiling water. If a chilled bisque is too thick and needs to be thinned, small amounts of water should be gently stirred until it reaches the proper consistency.