I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’ve probably never had a salmon bisque. It’s a bit of an unusual seafood soup recipe. You don’t see it very often, if at all. But salmon makes a surprisingly fantastic bisque. And, as opposed to lobster bisque, you can make it in a fraction of the time.
Now it should be mentioned that a true bisque is made with shellfish and not fish (or god forbid, tomatoes). It’s actually the shells of shellfish which are the key ingredient. When simmered in water with aromatics and other herbs and vegetables, they make a rich, luscious and deeply flavored stock. That’s why you’ll find so many lobster bisque, crab bisque, and shrimp bisque recipes.
Fish broth, wonderful as it is in many fish soups, chowders, and stews, is just not flavorful enough for a bisque. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a great salmon bisque recipe. Salmon, in particular, with its unique, almost shellfish-like flavor, when paired with a rich shellfish stock and/or clam juice can make an incredible salmon bisque!
Lobster bisque is rarely made by home cooks because it’s just too time-intensive. You have to cook the lobsters first, cool them down, then crack them open and pick out the meats (which can be tiring and tedious), return the shells to the water and then make and strain the stock. That’s about a two-hour process. Once you’re done with that, then you make the bisque!
But with a salmon bisque, you can use clam juice in place of lobster stock. And all you need is a fillet or two of salmon. From start to finish it only takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
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Lobsters ain’t cheap! Salmon isn’t either but it’s more affordable than those dang delicious but pricey bottom feeders.
99% of the time it’s the only bisque option you’ll find in restaurants. Why not try something new?
I recently hosted a bisque-tasting party at my house. I know, who the hell does that?! This weirdo, that’s who. But, in my defense, I am in the process of writing a cookbook on New England seafood soups (perhaps that makes me even weirder) and I’m currently working on the bisque chapter. So I invited some local seafoodie friends over to try out four different types of bisques. Guess which one was the consensus favorite?
That’s right. Everyone loved it. This was my gut feeling because when I first made it I could not believe how good it was. It was so bisque-like that you’d never know it wasn’t a true bisque. But I still felt like I needed some confirmation and feedback from some friends. I’m glad they loved it as much as I did. I’m confident you will too!
Medium stockpot (best choice) (good choice)
The following ingredients are for a serving size of about 5 to 6 people.
Melt butter over medium heat in a medium-sized stock pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf and saute for about 5 minutes until softened and fragrant. Add the garlic cloves in the last minute.
It will look like a tomato soup at this point.
Bring it to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a steady boil. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Remove the bay leaf.
Simmer gently for a few minutes until it’s cooked. The meat will turn more of a pink color.
Turn the heat off.
You can use either a blender or a handheld immersion blender. I would highly recommend the latter as it’s much easier and safer. Regardless of which you choose, be very careful when blending hot soup as it can easily splatter. For an immersion blender, make sure it’s fully submerged underneath the liquid to prevent splattering. Start slow, like so…
Keep blending for a few minutes or so until the bisque becomes smooth, like so…
Stir it in well. It will lighten the color of the bisque slightly, like so…
Taste the salmon bisque. Make whatever adjustments in flavor you desire. Add up to 1 more cup of heavy cream for added richness. Add salt, to taste, if needed. And add more sherry, if needed, for a boost of sweetness.
Stir it in well, like so…
Optional seasonings include a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, salt, a splash of sherry, a pinch of nutmeg, and more fresh dill!
A simpler alternative to the time-intensive lobster bisque, salmon bisque is equally satisfying, rich and delicious!
Add salmon and simmer gently for a few minutes until cooked.
Remove the stockpot from the stove top and puree the bisque with a handheld immersion blender. Be very careful not to splatter hot soup!
Add 1 cup of the heavy cream and stir in. Taste. Add up to 1 more cup of cream and additional sherry, if desired, to taste. Add salt, to taste.
Add the dill and stir in.
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.