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Bless Your Spoon: Bring the flavors of the ocean home with bisques

By Stephanie Williams Dean

No need to fret if you can’t make it to the ocean.

Bring the sea home to your supper table with a few favorite soups – those creamy bisques made with fresh shellfish. Along with chowder, a bisque is one of the most popular seafood soups made with butter and cream – and sherry.

If you haven’t tried tweaking your cream soups with a touch of sherry, now’s the time – and you’ll be glad you did. Sherry is a fortified wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, has been added. Just like togetherness on a beach, sherry walks hand in hand with seafood newbergs as well.

The recipes are rich, but I offer up no excuses for a cooking style that’s old fashioned and from scratch. Cream sauces are easy to make – but I included a few recipes using soups. You can substitute lobster in any bisque base.

Food is all about taste.

I don’t try any recipe if it doesn’t “taste” good to me when I read it. The recipes that taste best use real butter, cream, whole milks, and other premium ingredients. I do draw the line with branding – and use any brand I find on sale

But it must be the real deal.

LOBSTER NEWBERG I

1 stick melted butter

1 ½ lb. cooked, chopped lobster

2 oz. brandy

1 Tbsp. paprika

2 oz. sherry

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp flour

1 cup half and half

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp. white pepper

1 Tbsp. cold butter

In a skillet, melt butter. Add chopped lobster meat. Cook for 5 minutes. Add brandy and paprika. Cook until hot. Add sherry. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp. of butter. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Cook until bubbly. Stir the flour sauce into the lobster mixture. Add the half and half and heavy cream. Season with salt and white pepper. Mix well. Cook mixture while stirring constantly until hot but not boiling. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. butter and melt. Spoon over toast points, pastry shells, or toasted English muffins. Rich and delicious. You can use any combination of chopped lobster, shrimp or crab meat.

LOBSTER NEWBERG II

3 Tbsp. salted butter

¼ cup chopped onion

4 oz. chopped fresh mushrooms

1 ½ cups whole milk

8 oz. softened cream cheese

1 ½ cups cooked, cut lobster

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup white wine

In a skillet, melt butter. Sauté chopped onions and mushrooms until onions are translucent and mushrooms are brown. Set aside. In a bowl, add milk and soften cream cheese, mixing until blended. Add onions, mushrooms, lobster, cheese, parsley, and salt. Heat until bubbly. When ready to serve, add wine. Serve over toast points, toasted English muffins or pastry shells.

SEAFOOD NEWBERG

1 stick melted, salted butter

¾ cup all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk

2 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. sherry

2 Tbsp. salted butter

8 oz. mushrooms

1 lb. cooked, cut in half scallops

½ lb. cooked, cup up lobster

½ lb. cooked, cut up shrimp

In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and make a paste. Add salt. Add milk and cook until mixture is bubbly and thickened. Add tomato paste, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and sherry. Remove from heat and set aside. In a skillet, melt butter. Add mushrooms and sauté until brown. Stir mushrooms into sauce. Cut cooked lobster and shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Half the scallops. Add meats to sauce. Heat over low heat for 30 minutes until hot. Serve over toasted English muffins, toast points, or puff pastry shells.

SHRIMP NEWBERG

½ stick salted butter

6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

½ chopped onion

1 chopped clove garlic

4 oz. sliced mushrooms

3 cups milk

4 Tbsp. sherry

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 dashes of hot sauce

1 Tbsp. salted butter

4 oz. sliced, cooked fresh mushrooms

1 lb. cooked, cut up shrimp

3 chopped hard-boiled eggs

In a saucepan, melt butter, Sauté onion and garlic. Add flour and mix to form a paste. Gradually add milk while stirring constantly. Cook until sauce thickens. Add sherry, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste and a few dashes of hot sauce. In a skillet, melt butter.  Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add mushrooms, shrimp, eggs, and parsley to the white sauce. Stir over low heat until heated thoroughly. Serves 4. Serve over toast points, toasted English muffins or pastry shells.

CRAB BISQUE

1 ¼ quarts light cream

1 ¼ quarts half and half

¼ cup Sherry

¼ cup brandy

1 tsp white pepper

4 oz. lobster base

1 ½ sticks salted butter

1 small chopped onion

2 stalks chopped celery

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. salted butter

2 tsp. white wine

1 ¼ lbs. crab meat

In a stock pot, combine light cream, half and half, Sherry, brandy, and white pepper and heat to warm. In a skillet, melt butter and sauté onions. Add flour to make a paste. Cook while stirring until lightly brown. Set aside. In a skillet, melt butter and add wine. Sauté crab meat until very hot. Set aside. Thicken the cream in the stock pot by adding the flour paste a little at a time until incorporated well and thickened. Add the crab meat in wine/butter to the soup. Simmer for 20 minutes while stirring. Serves 8. (Lobster paste base is made with lobster meat from the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Prepared, this base has the flavor and aroma characteristic of a lobster stock.)

SHRIMP AND CRAB BISQUE

1 cup water

½ cup chopped onions

½ tsp seafood seasoning

½ tsp crushed thyme leaves

½ tsp crushed marjoram leaves

White pepper

1 lb. peeled, cut up, uncooked fresh shrimp

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 soup can of milk

¼ lb. pound cooked, fresh crab meat

2 Tbsp. white wine

In a saucepan, combine water and seasonings, and heat to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in soup, milk, crabmeat, and wine. Heat to a simmer and serve. Add a dollop of sour cream on top.

QUICK CRAB AND ASPARAGUS BISQUE

1 can condensed cream mushroom soup

1 can condensed cream asparagus soup

1 ½ soup cans milk

1 cup light cream

8 oz. flaked crabmeat

¼ cup dry white wine

Blend soups. Stir in milk and cream. Heat to boiling. Add crab. Heat through. Just before serving, stir in wine. Serves 6.

SHRIMP BISQUE

2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

¼ chopped onion

2 cans condensed cream of celery soup

1 can milk

1 can water

8 oz. chopped shrimp

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1 Tbsp. catsup

Pinch of pepper

12 medium, whole shrimp, garnish

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and cook until transparent. Blend in soup, milk, and water. Add chopped shrimp, parsley, catsup and pepper. Whisk or beat until smooth. Heat thoroughly and serve with whole shrimp on top, and paprika. Serves 6.

DAISY KING’S CORN AND SHRIMP BISQUE

2 Tbsp. salted butter

2 chopped green onions

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

3 ½ oz. can creamed corn

4 oz. cooked, cut, fresh shrimp

¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a saucepan, melt butter and sauté onions. Add flour and mix. Add milk and stir over the heat until thickened. Add corn, shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Heat to boiling point. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Serves 4-6. (Daisy King is a cookbook author and mentor from my hometown, Nashville, Tn. and helped train me in the art of good cooking.)