harissa spiced lobster bisque

by Brittney

This rich and creamy lobster bisque is made with flavorful homemade lobster stock and spiced with harissa chili paste! Our spicy take on this classic soup is smooth, invigorating and bursting with seafood flavor!

I’ve been dreaming about this recipe for awhile now. I absolutely love lobster and spicy stews are my ideal comfort food. So when I had the idea to create a harissa spiced lobster bisque my expectations were exceedingly high. Luckily, the flavors came together just as I had imagined and this spicy seafood soup is now the only way I want to enjoy lobster bisque!

bowl of lobster bisque with pieces of lobster meat

preparing the lobster stock and lobster meat

Good lobster bisque is all about the homemade lobster stock, which actually takes minimal effort to prepare. For simplicity, we use just lobster tails in this recipe; they’re much easier to work with (and less messy) than whole lobsters.

To make the stock, you’ll start by parboiling the tails in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes. This cooks the lobster just enough to easily remove the meat from the shell. It also ensures that we don’t overcook the lobster, which can result in an unappetizing rubbery or tough texture. We’ll finish the cooking right before serving by sauteing the lobster meat in a bit of garlic butter (more on that in a minute).

After separating the meat from the shell (you can read more about the technique in this post on broiled lobster tails), you’ll place the lobster meat in the refrigerator and return the shells to the boiling water. Let the shells simmer in the water for about 20 minutes (which is just enough time to prepare the rest of the dish) and then strain the stock and discard the shells. Our lobster stock is ready! It’ll be added to the bisque after all of the other ingredients have been sauteed together.

And right before serving don’t forget to pull your lobster meat out of the fridge! Heat a bit of butter and a few smashed garlic cloves in a small skillet and saute the lobster until cooked through. Add to the soup right before serving.

bowl of lobster bisque

harissa spiced lobster bisque

The rest of the soup is easy enough to make and involves the ingredients generally found in a bisque with one little addition: harissa! If you’re not familiar with harissa, it’s a delicious red chili pepper seasoning that can be found in both paste and powder form. The spicy condiment is thought to have originated in Tunisia, but is poplar all across Northern Africa and is becoming increasingly popular globally.

We like to use harissa in paste form for this recipe, which (if you live in the US) can easily be found at Trader Joe’s or online. Just note that harissa pastes can vary quite a bit in intensity so make sure to adjust the amount in your soup to taste. The chili paste adds a beautiful complexity to the soup and creates a wonderfully invigorating and spicy lobster bisque!

bowl of lobster bisque with pieces of lobster meat

For more comforting soups and stews, make sure to check out these recipes!

bowl of lobster bisque with pieces of lobster meat

harissa spiced lobster bisque

serves: 3-4 prep time: cook time:
Rating: 4.0/5
( 2 voted )

ingredients

  • lobster tails 3 tails
  • butter (divided) 3 tbsp (40 g)
  • onion 1 medium
  • carrots 2 medium
  • celery 2 stalks
  • tomato paste 3 tbsp
  • harissa paste 2-3 tbsp
  • wine ¾ c (180 ml)
  • bay leaves 2 leaves
  • thyme 3 sprigs
  • salt to taste
  • heavy cream ½ c (120 ml)
  • garlic 2 cloves

instructions

prepare the lobster stock
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil (at least 6 cups / 1.5 l of water or enough to just cover the lobster tails) and add 1 teaspoon of salt. 
  2. Add the lobster tails and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes or until the shells turn bright red - make sure not to overcook them or the meat will be rubbery!
  3. Once the lobster tails are cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the shell* and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Return the shells to the water and simmer over low heat while you prepare the soup (about 20 minutes).
make the bisque
  1. Dice the onion, carrots and celery (or pulse together in a food processor until finely chopped).
  2. In a large pot, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
  3. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the tomato paste and harissa and stir to combine. Cook an additional minute.
  5. Pour in the wine. Simmer until reduced by half.
  6. Strain the lobster stock and add 3 cups (700 ml) of the stock to the pot. Add the bay leaves and thyme.
  7. Bring the mixture to a slight boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Discard the bay leaves and thyme and use a blender to process until smooth (you may need to work in batches). Return the bisque to the pot, stir in heavy cream and season with salt to taste. Keep warm.
prepare the lobster meat
  1. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Smash the garlic cloves and saute until just fragrant.
  2. Add the lobster meat and a pinch of salt to the pan. Cook until just heated through and then add to the bisque.

notes

    Separate lobster meat from shell: Use kitchen scissors to cut through the top of the shell lengthwise, stopping just before the base. Carefully spread the shell apart and detach the lobster meat from the sides of the shell.


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