Salmon and Crab Bisque

This is a post that has taken far too long.  In fact, my desire to make salmon and crab bisque and document my attempts is part of the reason I started this blog.  I’ve made it twice, once at the end of last semester (mid-December) and once for Christmas.  So… it’s been a while.  Here goes…

There’s an Italian restaurant near campus that is quite delicious.  It’s a little pricey, so I’ve only been when my parents (or someone else’s parents) are paying for me, but the food is to die for.

With every entree you get a choice of a soup or salad.  Two of the times I went (I don’t remember about the first time), the soup of the day was crab and salmon bisque.  Other people remember it to be other things, such as lobster or seafood bisque, but I remember crab and salmon.  That bisque is so good…. I just had to figure out how to make it.  (One of my goals in life is to figure out how to cook food so good that I don’t want to go to fancy expensive restaurants.  I realize that cooking that well can take time, so I’ll probably still go out to eat, but it’s still a goal).

Anyways, I looked up recipes for crab and salmon bisque, but there were none.  So I had to figure one out for myself.  I made up my own recipe by combining several crab bisque and salmon bisque recipes until I felt like I had something that would work.

(For the purposes of ease of comparison, and because I didn’t take pictures the second time around, I’ll be talking about both cooking experiences simultaneously.)

At some point while I was looking for a recipe, I realized that this was soup, and when making soup, I could pretty much throw any ingredients together and end up with something that, if I was careful, would taste fine.  The matter was how to make it taste amazing.

My first time making it, I only used crab meat, because in California in December, good, fresh, non-farmed salmon is hard to come by.  Good, fresh crab meat is hard to come by too… but canned is reasonable.  And cheap.

I point out farmed salmon for a reason – when I was eyeing the salmon at the store, the guy asked if I’d tried the farmed salmon…. I definitely had an averse reaction, which thankfully he understood when I explained and didn’t seem insulted.

The second time I made it, I used fresh crab and fresh salmon from the fish market.  Way expensive but so much better.

Oh, yeah, if you can’t tell, I started by melting some butter in a pan.

In the meantime, my cheerful assistant chopped up the carrots, celery, and onion.

Yeah, we were having fun cooking.  End of finals does that to you.

While he was doing that, I decided to open up the wine.  I bought a whole bottle and only needed half a cup of it for the dish, so we figured we’d drink a little while cooking.  To make it even more fun.  Or something.

Anyways, something was wrong with the cork, or the way we put the corkscrew into the cork, and we basically almost had corky wine.  Yum!

There were a lot of vegetables needing chopping.

In the meantime, I heated up some butter and flour until golden brown.

That messy pan on the back burner?  That was from the applesauce that I made the same day.  Now y’all know how long its been.

For some reason I think the butter and flour heating went way better the second time around, but it’s been too long to remember.  I was actually thinking today about how long this semester feels… only 3 weeks left, though!

Oh, right, cooking.  So that pan with the butter in it from a while ago?  That was for sauteing the celery, carrots and onion.  Just saute those for a while.  They’ll be fine.

What won’t be fine?  The butter and flour if you stop stirring it.  DON’T STOP STIRRING IT!  If that burns, you’ll be sad.

So, while you’re stirring the butter and flour, get your cheerful assistant to juice a lemon.

Okay, that’s where I went wrong the second time.  My recipe said 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, but my lemon was small and not terribly juicy the first time around, so i just used the whole thing.

The second time, however, the lemon was big and juicy and produced like… 3 times as much juice.  So my final product was very lemony.

Here’s a beautiful golden brown, and some gorgeous Christmas nails.

Somehow I didn’t take a picture of the next several steps, but basically, after this, all of the ingredients get added – stock, sauteed vegetables, and tomato paste.

As for stock, any meat stock should probably work.  I had turkey stock on hand the first time from Thanksgiving, and for my second round, which was at home, I used chicken stock.

It was probably to my advantage that both broths were homemade – I’ve actually never used store bought broth in anything, mostly because my family always has some homemade chicken broth on hand.

My dad’s obsession with using all the leftover chicken scraps for chicken broth leads to a lot of “there’s a carcass in the freezer” jokes.

Once everything is added and mixed in, the pot can be covered and let to simmer for a while.

When it’s done, it should be nice and steamy, and taking pictures of it will produce awesome effects.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and… bisque!

Oh, let it simmer for a bit longer, so the flavors of the seafood can permeate.

This looks slightly less appetizing than the last picture, but that’s just because cream lightens it.

Give it a good stir before serving because the large chunky things settle.

Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or just on its own with the rest of the wine.  We got lucky with the wine, because it happened to be one that went particularly well with seafood.

Preferably – serve it in a soup mug.  Soup mugs are awesome.

This one got rave reviews both times around.  The first time, the only improvement I wanted to make was better quality seafood.  It was good, but it was easy to tell the crab wasn’t fresh or well processed.  The only complaint was the crab shell bits that kept showing up, but fresher crab would have been nice too.

The second time, everyone loved it, but, as I mentioned before, I included too much lemon.  My mom kept asking “how much lemon does it call for?” and I’d have to respond “I don’t know, mom, I made up the recipe!”

Salmon and/or Crab Bisque

1 cup minced onion
1 cup minced carrot
1 cup chopped celery
4 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups turkey stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-2 lb crab and/or salmon meat
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Saute onion, celery and carrot in 2 tablespoons of butter until soft, set aside.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, add 4 tablespoons of flour, stir, stir, stir until light brown.
  3. Add turkey stock and keep whisking
  4. Add onions, celery, carrots and tomato paste, simmer for 1/2 hour
  5. Add cream, lemon juice, wine, Worcestershire sauce, salt, salmon and crab, simmer for 5-10 minutes (until thick)
  6. Heat until warm enough to eat, serve with crackers or on its own!

Edit – thanks kDycu for catching a typo!

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