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How to make Sweden's luxurious lobster soup

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How to make Sweden's luxurious lobster soup
Lobster soup with dill toast. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food
06:59 CEST+02:00
Described as the "king of soups" by Swedish food writer John Duxbury, traditional lobster soup is not only a handy way of using up left over lobster shells, it also tastes incredible. Here's chef Johan Sköld's own recipe for the indulgent favourite.

Summary

Serves: 4

Level: Easy

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 90 minutes (plus 60 minutes for flavours to infuse)

Total: 110 minutes

Tips

- This makes a wonderfully rich soup, but if you are concerned about the amount of cream you can either serve very small portions or replace all the cream with a good quality fish stock and then add four tablespoons of cream in step 10. (For health reasons this is how I normally make it.)

- Serve the soup with dill toast as shown above or cut into heart shapes as shown below.

- You can freeze lobster shells until you want to make this soup, but do this as soon as possible after cooking the lobsters and use them within two weeks. To use them, defrost them for 30 minutes and then, whilst they are still in the freezer bag, break them up into really small pieces using a mallet.

- Try cooking lobster yourself. It really is quite easy! For our recipe click here.

Ingredients

Shells from two medium sized lobsters

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp brandy or cognac

½ small fennel, finely chopped

250g (8 oz) mixed root vegetables such as carrots, celeriac and parsnip, finely chopped

½ small onion, peeled and finely chopped 2 cm (1") white end of a leek, finely chopped

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tsp mixed seeds such as dill, aniseed, fennel or cumin

2-3 dill flowers, if in season

180 ml (¾ cup) white wine

900 ml (3½ cups) double (heavy) or whipping cream

1 tbsp dry sherry

Salt and white pepper to taste

Lemon juice to taste

4 small dill sprigs

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas 6, fan 180°C).

2. Bake the lobster shells for 5 minutes to dry them thoroughly.

3. When the shells are cold enough to handle, break them up as much as possible with a mallet. The smaller the pieces the better the flavour.

4. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large pan. When melted, add the crushed lobster shells. Sauté for a few minutes until it begins to smell quite lobsterish, then remove from the heat, add 2 tablespoons of brandy and flambé the shells.

5. When the flames subside, add the chopped fennel, roots vegetables, onion, leek, seeds, tomato purée and dill heads (if available). Sauté the mixture for 5 minutes or so until the vegetables have softened a bit.

6. Add the wine and boil for 5 minutes.

7. Add the cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Put a lid on the mixture and leave it to simmer gently for an hour, stirring occasionally and turning down the heat if it looks as if it might burn.

8. After an hour turn off the heat and leave the flavours to infuse for an hour in the pan with the lid on.

9. Sieve the mixture.

10. Return the mixture to a cleaned-out saucepan and bring back to a gentle simmer. Add a tablespoon of sherry plus salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

11. Just before serving, whisk the soup with an electric hand blender and then carefully pour into warm soup bowls.

Luxury version

Roughly chop the tail meat from two lobsters and add four claws to an oven proof dish. Cover with foil and place in a warm oven for a few minutes to warm through. The meat only needs to be gently warmed through and not cooked because otherwise it will become rubbery. Divide the meat between four dishes and carefully pour the soup around the meat. Garnish with dill if desired. 

Dill toast (optional)

Dill toast makes an attractive garnish and for a special occasion it looks really nice when cut into heart-shapes. It is also easy to make!

8 slices of white sourdough bread

2 garlic cloves, peeled

40g (⅓ stick) butter, softened

4 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

Method

1. Preheat the over to 220°C (425°F, gas 7, fan 190°C).

2. Cut the bread into heart shapes.

3. Halve the garlic cloves and then use the cut faces to wipe one side of each slice of bread.

4. Mix the butter and chopped dill together. Spread the mixture over each piece of bread.

5. Bake for 3-5 minutes until golden brown at the edges.

Recipe by Johan Sköld and published courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.

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