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What is a bisque?

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Quick Answer

A bisque is a thick, rich, creamy soup usually made with shellfish. Creamy soup made from fruits, vegetables or fungi may also be referred to as bisque.

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What is a bisque?
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Full Answer

Bisque is traditionally made from shellfish such as crab, lobster, shrimp and crayfish. The shellfish, with shell intact, is roasted and simmered to produce a stock. Wine and spices are added to the stock, and the shellfish simmers. Everything is then pureed. Traditionally, even the shells are ground and used to thicken the soup and retain more of the shellfish flavor.

Rice, can be used to thicken the soup instead, either pureed or strained from the final product since the rice's starch is the true thickening agent. Cream is added, and the soup is cooked to thicken further. The final result may be garnished with parsley, spices or flaked meat.

While shellfish was originally an integral component of bisque, the name has been extended to creamy soups made with roasted and pureed produce such as tomato and mushroom. Though these lack shellfish, they retain the smooth, thick, creamy texture.

Bisque is distinguished by its smooth and creamy texture, in contrast with chunky chowder. Bisque originated in France; its name is derived from "bis cuites," which means "twice cooked." It's also speculated that the name refers to the cuisine of Biscay, characterized by the spices also found in bisque.

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