- 3 quarts water
- Four 1 1/2 -pound live lobsters, split lengthwise
- 1/4 cup pure olive oil
- 1 pound fennel bulbshalved, cored and coarsely chopped
- 2 medium celery ribs, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium leek, halved lengthwise and coarsely chopped
- 1 unpeeled head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons Armagnac or Cognac, plus more for serving
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- Large pinch of saffron threads
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- In a large stockpot, bring the water to a boil. Twist the claws and tails from the lobster bodies and set aside the bodies. Add the claws and tails to the boiling water. Simmer the tails until just cooked, about 3 minutes, and the claws until they turn bright red all over, about 8 minutes; transfer the pieces to a large bowl as they are done and reserve the cooking liquid. Let the lobster cool slightly. Crack the claws; remove the meat from the tails and claws, then cover and refrigerate.
- Twist the legs from the lobster bodies and cut the bodies into large pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the fennel, celery, carrot, onion, leek and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are browned, about 8 minutes.
- Add the lobster legs and body pieces to the casserole and cook over high heat, stirring, until the shells start to brown, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the shells and stir well. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and Armagnac and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the thyme, bay leaf, saffron and the reserved lobster cooking liquid until smooth.
- Simmer the broth over low heat, skimming occasionally, until very flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain the broth through a coarse sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return the broth to the casserole.
- Add the heavy cream to the casserole and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the bisque with salt and pepper. Cut the reserved lobster tail and claw meat into 1-inch pieces. Add the lobster meat to the simmering bisque and cook until just heated through, about 1 minute. Add a splash of Armagnac to 8 soup plates. Ladle the lobster bisque into the soup plates, garnish with the parsley and serve.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Rewarm the broth before proceeding with the bisque.