A good lobster broth is such a beautiful thing. Light and slightly sweet with hints of anise, thyme, white wine and the sea, it’s the perfect base for dishes like lobster corn chowder, lobster bisque and lobster risotto. You can also substitute it in dishes that use fish broth or clam broth such as a bouillabaisse or cioppino.
Of course, let’s face it, those juicy crustaceans are expensive and making a lobster broth probably won’t be a regular part of your kitchen routine.
And that’s even more reason to SAVE THOSE SHELLS!
Even if you order lobster in a restaurant, ask the server to package up the shells and bring them home. Get as much value out of those babies as possible!
There are a few different ways to make a lobster broth. The easiest method, which is the method used in this post, is to simply simmer the shells in water for an hour with veggies and herbs. It results in a light, but still delicious tasting lobster broth. For my recipe I include a chopped fennel bulb which adds a hint of anise that I think pairs perfectly with the flavor of lobster.
Another method is to roast the shells and/or saute the shells and vegetables in oil first and then add the water and simmer. This results in a richer tasting broth that I like to call a “lobster stock.”
For the most part, the words “lobster stock” and “lobster broth” are used interchangeably but I like to use both to differentiate the two methods.
Although the differences in taste are subtle you might use a lobster broth in dishes that have many other flavors such as a lobster corn chowder or a bouillabaisse. And you might use a lobster stock in dishes where a stronger lobster flavor predominates such as a lobster bisque or a lobster risotto.
First, get some lobsters. Yup, you’re going to need lobsters to make lobster broth. I know, mind-blowing stuff here.
The shells from a typical pound and a quarter lobster will yield about a quart to a quart and a half of broth. I bought the three lobsters pictured above from a local seafood market which yielded about 3 and a half quarts of lobster broth when all was said and done.
You’ll want to split the body with a knife and remove the head sac (also called the “grain sac”) which sits just behind the eyes. The head sac is actually the stomach of the lobster and contains some gritty parts like bones and pieces of shells.
To further clarify and possibly gross you out, here’s what the head sac looks like…
At the very least, I spared you from showing a picture of the tomalley, the green gooey stuff inside the body of cooked lobsters that looks like a combination of puke and snot. Lovely, I know. Still hungry?
Truth be told, the tomalley is actually considered a delicacy and is quite flavorful. So don’t discard it! Just close your eyes and add it to the broth with everything else. It will contribute to the flavor of the lobster broth. I promise your lobster broth won’t turn green.
Now comes the fun part – removing the meat from the tail and claws. Just kidding. It kinda sucks. Hopefully, you’ve achieved some satisfaction in this process via a big lobster feast with family and friends. In my case, I was making a lobster corn chowder for friends so I had to trudge through the somewhat time-consuming and messy process of cracking open the shells, removing the meat and resisting the temptation to shove those juicy, tender chunks in my face.
I got about three to four cups of lobster meat (minus a few tasty morsels) which I reserved for the lobster chowder.
Next, place the lobster carcasses in an 8 to 12-quart stockpot and cover them entirely with filtered water. I had to add about 5 quarts of water to the three carcasses to fully cover them. Bring the water to a simmer and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Once skimmed, add your vegetables and herbs and simmer assertively (somewhere between a boil and a light simmer) for about an hour, uncovered, until the lobster broth reduces by about 1/4 to 1/3, as seen here…
Follow the rest of the simple directions in the recipe that follows:
This simple lobster broth recipe can be used as a base for any seafood-based soup but is especially suited for soups like lobster bisque or lobster chowder.
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.