Bisque (food)

Type Soup
Place of origin France
Main ingredients Crustaceans (lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish), rice, sometimes popcorn
Cookbook: Bisque  Media: Bisque
A close-up view of tomato pumpkin bisque

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, crab, shrimp or crayfish. Also, creamy soups made from roasted and puréed fruits, vegetables, or fungi are sometimes called bisques.


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]


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."[4] 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.

Bisque is also sometimes used, although incorrectly, to refer to cream-based soups that do not contain seafood, in which the sometimes pre-cooked ingredients are pureed or processed in a food processor or a food mill. Common varieties include squash, tomato, mushroom, popcorn, and red pepper.[5]

See also


  1. The Academie Française Dictionary defines a bisque as: 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. Child, Julia; Simone Beck (1970). Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-40152-2.
  5. Mitzewich, John. "Tomato Bisque – Soup Might Not Count as a Meal, but Bisque Certainly Does". Food Wishes. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
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