Bisque and Bouillabaisse: A Brief History of Seafood Bases

BisqueThe French are well-known for producing exquisite seafood soups. Perhaps the most popular soups in their culinary arsenal are bisque and bouillabaisse. While older recipes were time-consuming and required the cook to produce bases from scratch, modern chefs can speed up the soup-making process by using a good seafood base.

Seafood bases are a thick paste made from concentrated soup stock. Seafood bases help thicken soups and impart a full, rich flavor to the broth.

Background of Bisque

Bisque is a creamy, thick soup made from various crustaceans including lobsters, crabs, and crayfish. The soup was invented somewhere around the 17th century and was widespread in England. Bisque was originally a form of pottage, which is a thick stew made from seafood puree.

For modern bisque recipes, suggests using ready-made lobster soup bases. Modern soup bases have a similar consistency to the pottage used in old recipes and helps save time while cooking.

Background of Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse originated in Marseille. It was a humble fisherman’s soup made from assorted Mediterranean fish. Traditionally, bouillabaisse must be made of at least three to four different kinds of fish, but older versions of the recipes simply used rockfish. Rockfish was unpopular among fishmongers because they were too bony, so fishermen ate them themselves.

Bouillabaisse has a much older history than bisque. An early form of the fish soup has been around since 600 BC and was invented by the Phoceans of ancient Greece.

Bouillabaisse has since transformed from a poor man’s dish into a gourmet offering enjoyed by the French elite. Modern versions of the recipe called for a basic fish base or the use of pre-made fish stock.

Seafood bases have been around for a very long time, and many modern cooks now choose to use canned versions for their soups. It speeds up the cooking process and imparts rich flavor with minimal effort.