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With its creamy depth of seafood flavor accented by white wine and the rich flavor of artichoke hearts, my Seafood Bisque is a rich and decadent Louisiana dish that is as historical as it is delicious.

A Creole classic: Seafood Bisque. (All photos credit: George Graham)

This Seafood Bisque is what I like to call “Haute Creole.” It’s a classic, time-honored, New Orleans specialty served in the finest white-tablecloth eateries in the city. I obsess over this dish and order it most anytime I see it.

I suspect the Creole cooks of the 1800s were influenced by the European taste for cream, butter, and wine (ingredients seldom seen in black culture of the time), and the inclusion of artichoke came from the Sicilian migration of the period. All along the Louisiana coast, a bountiful supply of fresh Gulf shrimp and blue crab was readily available, and the dish was embraced widely by the aristocratic society of of the region.

Meanwhile, over in Acadiana, the farm-to-table diet of Cajun families was more attuned to meats (mostly pork and wild game) and the coastal seafood catch, which was cooked simply and without the flair and flavors of the city. Artichokes were non-existent at the time, and it would be years later that Italians began to influence the Southwest Louisiana region. Even to this day, you rarely see this cream-based Seafood Bisque on Acadiana kitchen tables, and only occasionally in restaurants.

For me, this beloved dish is a special treat, and with this simple recipe, you can easily bring my Seafood Bisque to your table, too.

Seafood Bisque
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30 minutes

1 hour

1 hour, 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4 - 6

Seafood Bisque

Ingredients

  • ½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion1
  • (14.50-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered and packed in water, drained
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon diced green onion tops
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend
  • Kosher salt
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 pound medium (41/50 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound lump crabmeat

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, add the butter and onion, and cook until the onions turn translucent about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the artichoke hearts, garlic, green onions, and parsley.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a straight-edge spatula to prevent burning.
  4. Add the wine to deglaze and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot.
  5. Cook until the wine reduces to just a tablespoon or two, about 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle in the flour and stir it into the mixture.
  7. Cook to the blond roux stage or just until the raw taste of the flour is gone, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the milk and cream, and stir the mixture to combine.
  9. Let the mixture come to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to simmer.
  10. Add the lemon slices, pepper, Cajun seasoning, and a dash or two of hot sauce.
  11. Let the mixture thicken—about 10 minutes—and add kosher salt to taste. This base can now be held until you are ready to serve; it can also be made the day before and refrigerated.
  12. For serving, bring the mixture back to a simmer, and add the shrimp and crabmeat.
  13. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve piping hot in bowls with more hot sauce on the table.

I like the combination of shrimp and crab, but feel free to use just one. Claw crabmeat (it's cheaper} works great in this creamy dish, but feel free to break the bank with jumbo lump. This bisque should be a thick, chowder-like consistency; if too thick, add a bit of water. I like serving this simply with toasted baguette croutons, but traditional dinner rolls or mini-croissants would be an elegant touch. If you have leftover soup, I recommend you create a pasta dish by serving it over linguine noodles.