I’ve been making A. J. McClane’s Lobster Cheddar Bisque for quite a few years. The original recipe appears in my all-time favorite book on cooking fish, McClane’s North American Fish Cookery. Although by now I’ve strayed from the original recipe, spending time in the kitchen with an icon whose books and articles influenced me to seek the life I’m now living is invariably pleasant.
In addition to the connection with one of my personal culinary and angling heroes, I enjoy creating this bisque with ingredients that are in their own right touchstones. The Tillamook cheddar I use takes me back to the years I spent on the Oregon coast; the Coho salmon I used to catch in those days is replaced in this current iteration with Chignik River Sockeye. In Oregon, a friend’s gift of a large paper bag filled with freshly picked chanterelles inspired one version of this soup; the morels we recently came into from interior Alaska have inspired another.
The last time I published the recipe for this soup, I used lobster mushrooms. You can check out that recipe at: Salmon Cheddar Soup with Lobster Mushrooms
Here’s how I made it this time around.
- 1/2 pound pan-fried Sockeye salmon, boned, skinned and flaked or cut into bite-sized pieces
- *1¼ cups or so of morel mushrooms, cut so that a slice of morel and a chunk of salmon might both fit in a soup spoon
- soy sauce
- part of a red bell pepper, diced fairly fine. (I used a little over a tablespoon of Penzeys dried bell pepper.)
- ¼ cup shallots, diced fine (I used Penzeys dried shallots.)
- 2 tablespoons flower as a thickening agent. (White rice flower works best for this as it imparts very little flavor. But regular all purpose flower is fine.)
- 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter (for sautéing the mushrooms)
- 3 cups milk
- 1¾ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 or two tablespoons Better than Bouillon lobster base (optional). This is salty, so if you use it, be sure to taste as you go.
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon smokey mesquite seasoning
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
*When sautéing the mushrooms, a splash of Sherry or Chardonnay and a dash of soy sauce can be nice. It’s up to you.
- Heat olive oil and butter in the pot or sauteuse pan you will use to make the bisque. Medium heat.
- When the butter mixture begins to bubble, add the sliced mushrooms and toss to coat. Sauté the mushrooms for about two minutes. Add the shallots, bell peppers, a splash of white wine and soy sauce to finish. Lower heat.
- Vigorously stir in flour. Add milk, seasonings and lobster base. Stir till mixture begins to thicken. Keep it hot, but don’t let it boil.
- Add salmon and cheddar cheese. Taste the soup and add additional seasonings as necessary.
- Garnish with a pinch of paprika. Serve piping hot with a favorite bread.
Provided the soup wasn’t allowed to boil, it refrigerates well.