Walleye Bisque

This is part of my ongoing dialog of 101 things to do with a walleye. Bisque is a somewhat spicy soup that is fun to make because you can dive as deep into perfection as any chef can go, or you can float at the top of the stew pot where things are pretty straight forward. I usually like to be a purest when it comes to bisque because the name conjures so much anticipation in people’s minds you want it to always be special.

In this recipe however, I am going to assume that you are not interested in making fish fumet (fish stock); if I told you how to make it, you would never visit my website again. So instead, I will suggest that you use store bought fish stock, which is something no self-respecting chef would ever do. You can usually find fish stock in health food stores but not so much at the big box stores – and don’t ask me how I know that.

This is a good recipe to cook on an induction range so you can carefully control the temperature. If you don’t have an induction range in your kitchen, they sell very nice portable countertop models for around $100. I keep a couple in my kitchen and like to use them in the summer because they don’t generate excess heat. You do however have to use induction compatible pots. Most modern pots are induction capable, just look on the bottom and it will indicate what range of ranges (pun) the pot can be used for.


  • 1 lb walleye – or any other fish, prawn, or lobster
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 large celery – sliced
  • 1 carrot – peeled and sliced
  • 1 head of garlic – cut in half crosswise
  • 1 large tomato – sliced
  • 2 oz tomato paste
  • 2 TBL fresh tarragon – chopped (1 TBL if dried)
  • 2 TBL fresh thyme – chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 4 oz brandy
  • 4 oz dry sherry
  • 32 oz fish stock
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 TBL water


  1. Mise en place – gather and prepare your ingredients before you start.
  2. If you are going to make your own fish fumet, it should have been done yesterday, because it takes all day. If you are going to make try it, you will need a couple whole fish (see my fish fumet recipe).
  3. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onions, celery, carrot. Sauté for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.
  5. Reduce heat to M and Add tomato, tomato paste, herbs, and peppercorns. Stir until the tomato paste turns to a deep rust color.
  6. Stir in brandy and sherry and boil until most has evaporated.
  7. Add fish stock. I make mine form scratch but you can use store bought.
  8. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  9. Allow mixture to cool then put into a blender or food processor and puree. Be careful to process slowly, when you do this with hot food you get powerful pressure changes in the container.
  10. Strain the mixture into a large pot using a sieve. Press the solids to extract as much flavor as possible.
  11. Discard solids and reheat soup to a boil. Reduce to around a quart.
  12. Reduce heat and stir in cream and let simmer.
  13. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Dissolve cornstarch in water to make a slurry and then add it to the soup.
  15. Bring soup to a slow boil and stir until soup thickens.
  16. Reduce heat and add the walleye (or other fish/prawn/lobster).
  17. Simmer 4-5 minutes so the fish can cook.
  18. Serve.

Plating: You have many options for proving gastronomic flare (presentation). You can add croutons, sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro, or even finely grate white cheese on top. If your feeling comically avant-garde, you can float some fish-crackers on top of whatever color and flavor you’re moved by.