Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

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A bisque is a well-seasoned puréed shellfish soup. The shells are used to make the initial broth and then the shellfish base is fortified with white wine, cognac, and heavy cream. Many bisques are also thickened with rice or breadcrumbs. The cooking method employed to prepare a bisque is l’américaine or l’armoricaine (fully discussed in Session 16). The finished soup is garnished with tiny diced pieces of the dominant shellfish.

Originally, bisques were strong-flavored dishes of game or meat that had been boiled in a spiced broth. From this early dish evolved soups made with quail and pigeon that were garnished with crayfish or cheese croutons. In the early seventeenth century, a bisque became a more elegant soup with crayfish as the main ingredient and then moved on to embrace all types of shellfish as the primary flavor. Today, lobster or shrimp is most often the dominant component of this rich, thick soup.