Food Snob Chronicles — Crab & Corn Bisque

Bisque evokes thoughts of a cream-based soup in which crab is the star. And sometimes lobster. For average guys like me, it also means that I’m going to pay top dollar for a few spoonfuls of creamy warm shellfish bliss. While that might be the case nowadays, bisque has a somewhat humble beginning.

As the name implies, bisque is a French creation, but it’s a descendant of pottage — a Medieval England concoction of vegetables and occasional meat that was thickened with oats. (Pottage, needless to say, was the most common hot meal among peasants.) Bisque, on the other hand, was thickened with the ground shells of the daily crustacean catch – usually rock lobster.

Did you know?  Culinary historians don’t generally agree on where the name bisque came from, other than its original form in a 1685 cookbook in which it was introduced as bisk. Some experts believe that the name came from the Bay of Biscay (Spain), while others suggest a less romantic origin derived from bis cuites, which describes the twice-cooked shellfish in this dish.

Some chefs, including the late great Julia Child, count(ed) on the ancient all-in approach to bisque — cook the crustaceans, then grind the shells to thicken the stock – but such practice is rare. While the Culinary Institute of America defines modern-day bisque as a shellfish-flavored cream soup, even its chefs have moved away from the laborious ocean-flavored thickening agent, in lieu of starchy potatoes. If you order a cup of bisque in your favorite restaurant, odds are it was thickened with flour. And, though it might not mimic the stuff served in 17th century France, the new bisque really does taste blissful.

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Crab & Corn Bisque

Crab & Corn Bisque — Velvety goodness.

Crab & Corn Bisque — Velvety goodness. Plain and simple.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Crab & Corn Bisque
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: French
Serves: 4 main-course servings
  • 5 TB – Butter
  • 1 – Small red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 – Celery rib, minced
  • 2 – Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 – Shallots, minced
  • ⅓ cup – All-purpose flour
  • 1 cup – Clam juice
  • 1 cup – Fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ¼ cup – Dry Sherry
  • 1 cup – Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp – Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp – Old Bay seasoning
  • 2-3 drops – Louisiana hot sauce (optional)
  • ½ tsp – Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ lb – Lump crab meat
  1. In a large saucepan or small Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add bell pepper, celery, garlic and shallots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and cook until golden – about 2 minutes – stirring constantly. Whisk in clam juice; add corn. Bring to a light boil and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add Sherry, cream, Worcestershire, Old Bay, hot sauce and cayenne. Bring to a heavy simmer and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Stir in crab and remove from heat. Allow to sit for about 3-5 minutes before serving.
  5. Garnish with additional bell pepper and chopped green onions, if desired. Serve with crackers or a crusty French bread.



  1. Looks lovely… if I can get the ingredients I’ll try to prepare it this weekend 🙂

  2. This is just killing me. All of my favorite ingredients in one gorgeous bowl. Crab, Corn, Cream and Old Bay and sherry just to round things out. This is one way to take the cold out of winter.

  3. What a beautiful soup, Adam!

  4. Absolutely sensational Adam! I think I need something like this to perk me up. Sorry I haven’t been keeping up but this winter has really been hitting me hard.

    • adamjholland says:

      There, there Diane.. In little more than a month, you’ll be sneezing and cursing the pollen. Remember that winter air is the cleanest you’ll breathe all year. Godspeed. 🙂

  5. such a beautiful dish – how did you eat it? I would have wanted to merely wanted to admire it! 🙂 looks dee-lish!

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