Food - Drink
The Strange Ingredient Traditionally Used To Thicken Bisque
Bisque is a thick, creamy seafood soup or stew that originated in 17th century France, likely as a humble fisherman’s soup. By nature, bisque is a very thick soup, and to achieve the thick texture of the broth, fishermen once used all the seafood parts and leftovers they had available, including the shells from shellfish.
The standard way to make bisque is to separate the shells from seafood and fire-roast the shells. Sauté vegetables in butter before adding the shells, spices, sherry, and water, then simmer the mixture down to a rich stock that provides a flavor base for the soup; after this step, things get different for 17th-century versus modern cooks.
The traditional way to thicken bisque is to remove the shells from the broth, grind them into a paste, and add it to the bisque to create a thick, velvety texture; today, a roux of flour and butter is the standard way to thicken the soup. Next time you find yourself with extra crustaceans and a whole lot of time, maybe give the old method a try.