'Above all, a bisque should be smooth, light without being liquid, glossy to the eye, and definite to taste.' - Louis P. DeGouy
'What is bisque?' It's up there in the top 10 list of most asked soup questions.
'What is bisque?' you say.
I ask back: ‘Think of it this way: what isn’t bisque?’ which usually sets things off on the right direction, so I continue: ‘Well, it’s like this…
The origins of the word are unknown, but I think we can safely assume it’s French. And like a lot of French soups that have become popular in America, that means smooth, creamy and flavorful. However, you might be shocked to find that the French are no help in our quest for meaning. In The Soup Book, good ol LPDG breaks it down this way:
“Three soups that are closely related to chowders are cream soups, purees and bisques. Each of these is different, but each has something in common with the chowders.”
Yeah, not very clear right? And try to get meaning from this:
“Cream soups often are made from a single vegetable, such as peas, corn, carrots, etc. But several vegetables also may be used together.
“A puree is much like a cream soup, but it is always made from sieved vegetables and is usually thicker than cream soup.
“Bisque is the third variation. It is generally a fish, crustacean, or shellfish soup, as well as tomato, pea, or similar vegetable.”
I know you’re confused. We all are. It is our humanness, so don’t worry. But I think we should, first of all, just make a rule that bisques are for seafood only. The bleeding of the word into other areas is just salesmanship. That helps our cause of clarity quite a bit.