Bisque (food)

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Lobster bisque.jpg
Lobster bisque
Place of originFrance
Main ingredientsCrustaceans (lobster, langoustine, crab, shrimp or crayfish), rice

Bisque is a smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth (coulis) of crustaceans.[1] It can be made from lobster, langoustine, crab, shrimp, or crayfish. Alongside chowder, bisque is one of the most popular seafood soups.


It is thought the name is derived from Biscay, as in Bay of Biscay,[2] but the crustaceans are certainly bis cuites "twice cooked" (by analogy to a biscuit) for they are first sautéed lightly in their shells, then simmered in wine and aromatic ingredients, before being strained, followed by the addition of cream.[3]

The term 'bisque' is also sometimes used to refer to cream-based soups that do not contain seafood, in which the pre-cooked ingredients are pureed or processed in a food processor or a food mill. Common varieties include squash, tomato, mushroom, and red pepper.[4]


Bisque is a method of extracting flavor from imperfect crustaceans not good enough to send to market. In an authentic bisque, the shells are ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup. Julia Child even remarked, "Do not wash anything off until the soup is done because you will be using the same utensils repeatedly and you don't want any marvelous tidbits of flavor losing themselves down the drain."[5] Bisques are thickened with rice, which can either be strained out, leaving behind the starch, or pureed during the final stages.

Seafood bisque is traditionally served in a low two-handled cup on a saucer or in a mug.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Academie Française Dictionary defines a bisque as soup with cream Ray; crustaceans aren’t required!!!: BISQUE n. Potage fait d'un coulis de crustacés. Une bisque de homard, d'écrevisses. (Soup made from a crustacean coulis, e.g. lobster or crawfish bisque.)
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2010-03-10.
  3. ^ "biscuit". AskOxford. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
  4. ^ Mitzewich, John. "Tomato Bisque – Soup Might Not Count as a Meal, but Bisque Certainly Does". Food Wishes. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  5. ^ Child, Julia; Simone Beck (1970). Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-40152-2.