Lobster Bisque

Makes 4 servings
Time: 1 hour

This is a relatively simple and quick lobster bisque, one that retains two critical qualities: big-time lobster flavor and a luxurious creaminess. There are two good ways to obtain lobster bodies. One is to save them from a lobster feast. The other is to beg them from an old-fashioned fishmonger, who will either give them away free or charge you only minimally.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 to 8 whole lobsters, cooked or uncooked, with as many other lobster shells or bodies as you can
scavenge, plus coral, tomalley, and any stray bits of meat you might find
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned is fine; include the juices)
6 cups lobster, chicken, or fish stock or strained liquid reserved from boiling lobsters
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, deep pot over medium heat. When it melts, add the onion, garlic, carrot, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the whole lobsters and, if they are uncooked, cook, stirring, until they turn red, about 10 minutes; if they're already cooked, cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the wine and tomato and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Add the stock, raise the heat to high, and bring back to a boil. Once again, turn the heat to low and cover; cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lobsters and shells, crack them if necessary, and pick off any meat you find. Return the bits of meat to the soup (reserve any large pieces of meat you may have for the final addition).

5. Pass the soup through a food mill or purée it in a blender. (At this point, you may refrigerate the soup, covered, for up to 2 days; reheat before proceeding.) Return the soup to the pot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat so it bubbles gently. Add the remaining butter, in bits, until it melts. Add the cream and any bits of lobster meat and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with parsley, and serve.