Fall is almost here and that means it’s nearly time to start enjoying soups and bisques in your kitchen again. These are some of the best comfort foods. When you need a good warming food that is simple and delicious, we often turn to a soup or a bisque to warm us up.
Do you prefer creamy or soupy mixtures or do you like to serve a large variety of soup options in your home? There are so many different types of soups and bisques out there, it can be hard to differentiate and know just what you are working with.
What is the difference between bisque and soup? A bisque is a thick and creamy type of soup. While some soups may be thickened with ingredients like potato or flour, a bisque is always made to be thick and creamy by adding cream early in the process and reducing it.
In this guide, we will walk you through the differences between bisque and soup and let you know just how these two types of dishes measure up against each other. While they are very similar in many ways, there are certain characteristics that set them apart from each other.
Keep reading to learn the difference between bisque and soup.
Understanding Bisque Vs. Soup
Let’s start by setting the record straight. What you’ll probably want to know most is that a bisque is really a type of soup. ‘Soup’ is just a large category of liquid foods while ‘bisque’ is a more narrowly-defined subtype.
As we progress through this guide, we will walk you through each of these individually. After all, if all you wanted was a dictionary definition you probably wouldn’t be here, right?
Let’s get started, shall we?
What is a Bisque?
Bisque originated in France. It is a very flavorful and bold type of soup that is known for its creamy texture.
Bisque typically contains seafood if it has meat. You may even be familiar with the extra-popular lobster bisque, but there are certainly bisques with any type of crustacean or seafood, like shrimp, crab, or crayfish instead of lobster.
What really sets bisque apart as far as soups go is that it is smooth and creamy. When it comes to soup that contains seafood, this is one of the most popular options out there.
Bisque typically contains some sort of mixture that uses heavy cream and dry white wine to create. It’s a simple, but distinct, combination that sets bisque apart from other soups. Making soups like lobster bisque can be quite time-consuming and detailed, however.
Bisques are made to be thick and hearty with lots of smooth cream and typically some sort of puree to thicken them up. It’s thick enough to fill you up, yet smooth and creamy enough that you can enjoy the bisque without having to chew the ingredients a lot.
So what ingredients might you see in a bisque?
Common Ingredients in Bisques
Whether you choose to make lobster bisque or some other type of bisque, the ingredients don’t vary that much.
The meat or type of seafood might vary greatly, but that is really about it. Beyond that, bisque is always flavorful so expect to use quite a bit of seasoning to prepare your bisque dish.
Here are some of the common ingredients you’ll find in a bisque:
- Tomato paste
- Cream (typically heavy cream)
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Dry White wine
You might also see things like celery or carrots mixed into a bisque as well. Keep in mind that different recipes might call for different seasonings and ingredients. This is just a starter guide to the ingredients you might encounter the next time you order (or make!) a bisque.
As we said before, many bisques will have seafood specifically. It’s not a requirement per se, but it’s common enough that you should expect to see a lot of seafood bisques out there.
In terms of wine, sherry is typically the most common wine option used for bisque but any dry white wine will do. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are both dry white wine options that you could use as well.
How Are Bisques Made?
Bisque can take some time to make just right, as is common with most soups. There are several steps involved when you make bisque because you need to make stock and cook the seafood and then prepare it all together into the bisque dish for completion.
Most likely, you understand by now that some soups can be creamy. We want to point out that just because a soup is creamy does not automatically make it a bisque, although it may be similar.
Bisque soups often are even more creamy than a traditional cream soup might be.
When preparing bisque, the cream is added almost right away, so it is used earlier in the overall creation process than a cream soup is. The key is that a bisque allows the cream to reduce slowly, thickening the soup and smoothing it out as well.
Most traditional cream soups add the cream near the end of the cooking process. These cream soups often contain other thickening agents like rice, flour, potatoes, or even pasta.
But bisques do not use these items as the thickening agent (although you may see potatoes as ingredients in a bisque).
In a bisque, the thickening hinges on the fact that the cream cooks for a long time on a low temperature. So it doesn’t have to rely on extra thickening ingredients like a soup.
Here is what you should keep in mind when differentiating bisques and soups. Bisques are a type of soup. Bisque is not thin or liquidy when completed. It is thick, creamy, and smooth from the cooking process.
Bisques are heavy on the cream and the cream is used as a thickening agent. Bisque is made with cream from the start of the process. Bisques are heavily seasoned and flavorful. They typically contain seafood of some sort.
What is a Soup?
Soup is a very broad category and can encompass a variety of liquid dishes, not just bisques. There are broths, soups, cream soups, bisques, chowders, and more.
Soup can contain a large variety of ingredients in them. They can be liquid in nature or creamy. They can be thick or thin. The sky – err, pot – is the limit when it comes to soups!
Here are a few popular types of soup that you might recognize:
- Chicken noodle soup
- Potato soup
- Tortilla soup
- Vegetable soup
- Taco soup
- Broccoli cheddar
- Curry soup
- Noodle soup
This list could probably go on and on because you can make a soup with just about anything you want. Pick your favorite meats and vegetables. Add noodles, rice, potatoes, your options are pretty much endless!
What we are trying to get across here is that soup pretty much includes it all, even bisque.
Trying to Define Soup
Soup is such a broad, yet basic, category of food that it’s hard to pin down. It’s something you know when you see it. But we’ll give it a try.
We’ve heard soup described as basically liquid food, which is the best possible way to describe soup as a whole. Even though it may have fillers, thickeners, cream, or larger ingredients, the base of the soup is still centered around liquid.
That is one of the really great things about soup. You can often make it as thin or as thick as you want it to be. Soup is typically served hot, but some soups are served cold. Some people add crackers or bread to their soup as well or even eat it as a side.
Soup can often be served as a meal or it can also be used as a meal starter. Some soups are made with broths by boiling ingredients to get the liquid from them. Some soups you add broth or water to in order to make them more liquid in nature.
Soups and stews are comparable and often fall into the same category as well. Making soup is a great way to make a few ingredients go a long way. You can make a lot of soup with a small amount of stuff.
Soup is always better the more it simmers and develops flavor. You can have thick soups, thin soups, cream soups, and more. The thing is soups are a very inclusive category and there are pretty much no limits on what can qualify as a soup.
As with most foods nowadays, you can make your own soup, you can make a specialty soup, or you can even heat up canned soup. There are also dried soup mixes that just require you to add water or broth and maybe meat as well.
This category could quickly be overwhelming but what you really need to know is that soup is a broad category. This is perhaps one of the major differences between bisque and soup to take note of.
We want to touch lightly on the fact that while traditional soups are liquid and served warm or hot, there are soups that are not served in this manner. There are dessert soups, fruit soups, and cold soups. These are not as common in the category but they are there.
Common Ingredients in Soups
Now, let’s talk about some common things you might see in a soup. As you might have guessed, the ingredients could vary but we want to give you an idea of some of the most common things.
What you will notice is that there is typically a variety of meats, vegetables, seasoning, and filler in some manner.
Here is a list of some popular soup ingredients that you might come across:
- Meat of choice (steak, ground beef, chicken, seafood, ham, etc.)
- Seasonings (salt, pepper, etc.)
- Tomatoes or tomato sauce or paste
- Beans of any kind
- Miscellaneous vegetables
Keep in mind that you can use just about any ingredient and any seasoning that you want. You can follow a recipe or you can toss together items of your choosing.
In terms of soup, there are two primary categories. These categories consist of clear soups and thick soups. Clear soups are things like broth, bouillon, and consommé. There are a lot of varieties that fall into each of these categories as well.
Thick soups contain categories like bisques, creams, and potages. These are all somewhat similar but the thing to note is they are thick in nature. They are not liquid as much as creamy overall and yet, they are each unique in their own way.
Popular Soup Varieties
Fun fact: America’s favorite soup is chicken noodle soup. When soups are rated for top-selling types or ingredients, chicken noodle soup wins. There is just something warm and comforting about it.
Let’s also talk about some of the most common soups by culture. This will be fun and insightful and may just give you some history on one of your favorites.
Minestrone is a soup that is Italian in nature. It is primarily a vegetable soup. Goulash, something you might not classify as a soup, is a Hungarian soup that is rich with beef, paprika, and onion.
Clam chowder is popular in the New England areas of the U.S. It typically has potatoes and cream. Egg drop soup is a liquid soup that originates from Chinese culture. Gumbo is a southern Creole soup that has okra, roux, and rice.
Tom Yum is a soup that comes from Thailand. It is both hot and sour as well as fragrant and flavorful. Soto is an Indonesian soup with a lot of turmeric and meat.
Let’s wrap up this guide by covering a quick summary of bisque vs. soups. This section is designed to provide you with a quick reference and summarize what we have discussed in regard to soups and bisque and the difference.
Soup is a broad category. Bisque is actually a type of soup so you could think of it as a subcategory if you will. Soup can be thin or thick. It can be liquid or creamy. It can contain rice, noodles, vegetables, or whatever you want it to really.
There are a TON of soup options out there.
On the other hand, bisque is more of a specialty soup. It’s always thick, creamy, and smooth. It uses a heavy cream and the cream is a thickening agent. Bisque typically has seafood in it and the ingredients don’t vary that much across the board.
In essence, can consider bisque to be a specific type of soup while you remember that soup is all-inclusive. Soup can be broken down into different categories and that is where bisque comes into play here.
Once you understand that detail, it’s pretty simple to keep in mind just how different bisque and soup are overall.
We hope that you find this guide to differentiating between soup and bisque to be a valuable resource. There is a lot of great information to know about each one of these to understand how they are set apart or related to each other.
We’d like to invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information, just in case you have more soup and bisque queries.
What Makes Bisque a Bisque?
Bisque is set apart by its smooth texture. It is thick and creamy, yet incredibly smooth when it is complete. It’s very unique in this way.
Is Stew a Type of Soup?
Stew is often considered a type of soup, but it really stands apart in its own way. You could consider it a category of soup.
Stew tends to be hearty and thick with an abundance of meat and veggies in it. As the name implies, the ingredients have to stew in a simmering broth for hours to get their rich flavors and heartiness.
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