Tomato Bisque with Scallops
This Creamy Tomato Bisque recipe is made with fresh tomatoes and has an optional addition of perfectly seared scallops and a sprinkle of Parmesan and basil! This is an easy soup recipe you”ll make again and again!
Be sure to try my Italian Wedding Soup recipe next!
Tomato Bisque with Scallops
What do you do when you have a serious craving for a creamy tomato bisque, but also for deliciously seared scallops?! Well you combine the two, naturally.
It took a little brain power but I’ve conjured up a combination of flavors here that just can’t be beat.
I happened to have a couple of jars of my canned garden tomatoes on hand but store-bought canned Roma tomatoes work perfectly as well, especially with my additional pairing of sun-dried tomatoes, whoa BABY.
Feel free to omit the Scallops and stick to making Tomato Parmesan bisque.
How to Sear Scallops
Perfectly seared scallops require you to control over the amount of moisture in them.
Overly moist scallops give off a lot of water when they cook, which causes a great deal of evaporation, which causes the scallops to steam instead of sear.
Gaining control over that moisture begins with determining whether or not your scallops are “wet” (not ideal, but fixable), or “dry.”
Wet vs. Dry Scallops
A good portion of the scallops sold in the US are known as “wet” scallops, meaning that they’ve been soaked in phosphates for the purposes of preserving them, whitening them, and allowing them to gain water weight.
This phosphate bath leaves them with a soapier taste, and after being cooked, they’re smaller, tougher, and less flavorful.
Needless to say, dry scallops are of higher quality and cost more per pound, but wet scallops are much more dense in moisture and are heavier as a result, which plays into the cost anyway.
This picture is a good visual of what wet scallops look like, versus dry ones.
With a little additional preparation, you can still achieve a perfect sear with wet scallops.
How to Tell if Your Scallops Are Wet or Dry:
- Place a paper towel on top of a microwave safe plate.
- Place a single scallop on the paper towel and microwave at 100% for 15 seconds.
- If the paper towel has a decent amount of moisture on it, you’ve got wet scallops on your hands.
- Alternatively, if the paper towel is fairly dry, you’ve got dry scallops and can proceed with searing.
How to “Fix” Wet Scallops:
- In a large microwave safe bowl, combine 1 cup of water, ¼ cup of lemon juice, and 2 Tablespoons of salt.
- Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments, stir, and repeat until the salt is fully dissolved.
- Allow it to cool, placing it in the fridge if needed (you don’t want the scallops to cook in it).
- Add the scallops and let them soak for 30-40 minutes in the fridge. Then proceed with searing.
Feel free to dress your bisque up with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan and basil!
More Soup Recipes
- French Onion Soup
- Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
- Homemade Split Pea Soup
- Creamy Chicken Stew
- Italian Wedding Soup
- more soup recipes
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Tomato Bisque with Scallops
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced celery
- 9 tablespoons butter, separated, 1 stick + 1 Tablespoon
- 28 oz. plum tomatoes, 1 can
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 cups chicken stock OR seafood stock*
- ½ flour
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt/pepper, to taste
- 10 large sea scallops
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice & 2 tablespoons salt are needed to “fix” wet scallops, see info above
- In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt one Tablespoon of butter and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in the diced onions, carrots, and celery and cover the pot and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the plum tomatoes, (juice and all), along with the sun dried tomatoes. If the sun dried tomatoes were in oil, they can still contain a light coating of oil when added to the bisque.
- Stir in the oregano, basil, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, and chicken or seafood stock. Reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or more.
- Remove the bay leaf and use an [u][b][url:1]immersion blender[/b][/u] to blend it to your desired consistency, a little remaining texture doesn’t hurt! If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can ladle the soup into a blender and mix it in batches.
- Next, prepare the roux by melting a stick of butter in a sauce pan. Slowly whisk in ½ cup flour and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, to rid the mixture of the flour taste.
- Gradually add a cup of bisque to the flour mixture, whisking constantly. This will turn into a very thick paste. Whisk in 2 more cups of the tomato soup, then stir that mixture back into the soup pot.
- In a large bowl, combine the half and half and milk, and slowly pour in a ½ cup of bisque to temper it. This prevents the dairy from curdling by adding it quickly to hot soup. Next, pour this mixture into the bisque.
- Important! Read above instructions to determine if you have wet or dry scallops before performing the instructions below! [/b]
- Rinse your scallops, pat them dry, and place them in between 6 paper towels for 15 minutes.
- Use a cast iron skillet if possible, one large enough to cook the scallops without touching one another, so that the moisture around them can evaporate.
- Heat 2-3 Tablespoons oil to a cast iron skillet over medium high heat
- Add the scallops and let them sit undisturbed for about 2 minutes, (It’s important to time this accurately). When a rich, golden crust has formed, they’re ready to flip. Heat for another 1.5 minutes, then set aside.
- Ladle the soup in to serving bowls. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese and top each with a beautiful seared scallop.