This recipe is terrific. I combined what I figured was the best of two different Internet recipes, and I even changed it during making it as I thought about better methods to achieve the desired results. I am reporting back with great success. This bisque has a very rich flavor and smooth creamy consistency, offset perfectly with the addition of the small crisp bacon pieces added at serving time. You don't want to miss this one.
Ingredients: (makes four generous servings)
4 tbsp. of butter
1 slice of bacon
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced or diced very fine
5 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
2, 14 ounce cans of chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can of whole, peeled plum tomatoes (with liquid) roughly chopped, or equivalent or slightly more fresh ripe tomatoes
3 tbsp. of tomato paste
3 fresh parsley sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tsp. of ground or powdered dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 tsp. of sugar
1 1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
3/4 tsp. of white pepper
1 tbsp. of corn starch
Fry the bacon in a one gallon pot on low to medium heat and until it is crisp and most of the fat has been rendered. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel and set it aside. Crumble it when it is cool and put the pieces into a small serving dish. You will later add bits of the crisp bacon to the bisque at serving time, in fact I reheat the bacon pieces in the microwave oven immediately before serving so they are hot and crisp when added to the bisque.
Add the butter to the rendered bacon fat in the pot and heat the mixture on medium heat until the butter is melted and mixed with the rendered bacon fat.
Lower the heat to medium low, add the diced onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
Whisk in the flour gradually and cook on low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. The idea is that you are making a type of roux to thicken the bisque.
I used fresh tomatoes from my garden instead of canned tomatoes, so I quartered and partially crushed them in a separate pot and heated it to low boiling for about ten minutes. Then I processed the tomatoes using a colander to remove the skins and seeds, yielding a nice juice with a lot of tomato puree in it. If you are using canned tomatoes they are already cooked so simply process them through a colander to eliminate the seeds.
Pour in the broth, tomato juice/puree, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar and bring the bisque base to a low boil on medium high heat while whisking constantly.
Tie the parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add them to the pot. Lower the heat to very low and simmer the bisque base for 30 minutes, covered. I did not have sprigs of thyme so I used a teaspoon of dried thyme processed into a powder using a Magic Bullet® mixer/blender. I also just added the loose sprigs of parsley to the bisque base and later removed them and the bay leaf prior to the high speed blending step.
Remove the bisque base from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature, covered.
When the bisque base is cool, remove and discard the herb bundle. I used a type of large spoon with holes in it to capture the parsley pieces and the bay leaf and then I discarded them.
Working in batches, transfer the bisque base to a blender and puree it until smooth, storing each batch temporarily in a large mixing bowl.
Return the pureed bisque from the mixing bowl to the pot and reheat it over medium heat.
Whisk the cornstarch into the heavy cream and then whisk that mixture into the bisque while it is heating. Heat almost to a simmer but do not let the bisque boil.
Serve the bisque garnished with the crumbled bacon pieces and with oyster crackers or Keebler® Club Crackers and butter.
è If you want to preserve the bisque then vacuum seal and freeze two or three cup amounts of the pureed bisque base, prior to adding the cream. When you later use it, mix or blend the pureed bisque base with the appropriate amount of heavy cream/cornstarch and heat only to serving temperature. That will guarantee perfect creamy consistency.