Soup, Bisque and Gumbo: What the Heck’s the Difference?
We’re often asked, “What’s the difference between a soup, a bisque and a chowder? And is a gumbo a soup, or is it just a gumbo?”
On the surface, all those warm and cozy things in bowls seem straightforward enough. Toss a bunch of ingredients in a pot and wait -- but the truth is, soups and their brethren are carefully constructed dishes that follow well-established culinary rules. Those rules ensure each subset turns into something that’s both comforting and elegant at the same time.
So, how can you spot the difference? Here’s a cheat sheet.
Bisques are luxurious soups that are often associated with seafood. One of our most popular menu items is our Corn and Crabmeat Bisque, prepared with cream and enriched by a white roux. Many bisques also call for part of the ingredients to be pureed, which thickens the texture while deepening the flavor. For example, we puree fresh butternut squash in our Butternut Squash and Shrimp Bisque, creating silky mouthful and a beautiful color.
Also associated with seafood, especially clams or oysters, chowders are hearty concoctions in which the ingredients are allowed to remain chunky.
“Soup” refers to that large category of yummy things in bowls that are generally separated into two categories: broth-based or cream-based. Our Creole Tomato Soup is a great example of a broth-based soup because it relies heavily on chicken stock, while our Oyster and Artichoke Soup gets its texture from a decadent dose of heavy cream.
Our local favorite, gumbo, is defined by the presence of a roux usually cooked to a medium to dark hue. Roux is what gives gumbo its distinct, nutty flavor no matter what proteins are present. When we make our Seafood Okra Gumbo, we make a roux with butter and flour and take it to a dark mahogany color. While roux is the primary thickener in gumbo, other elements that add to the viscosity of a gumbo are okra and filé.
The wide world of soups screams love and coziness. And while soups are associated with cold weather months, we think they’re delicious year-round.