Lobster Sweetheart Soup
When there's nothing too good for your baby, this may be just the labor of love you're looking for. Mightily extravagant, a pain to make, and definitely worth it. Serve this red and white Valentine Special, bubbly hot, to 2--with crusty bread and champagne, preferably by candlelight.
Garnish: lobster cream, made of 1/2 lobster tail, 1 Tablespoon vermouth, salt and pepper, and heavy cream
First an anatomy lesson. Put your lobster flat on its back on a plate (to catch the juices). Take a pair of scissors and cut from the bottom of the tail straight up its top shell, through the body, to the center of the head (but not through the eyes). Turn the lobster over, and cut the same way through the other side of the shell. Now you should be able to easily sever the lobster completely up through the middle, except still attached at the head. Break the shell apart at the head to open it up. You'll see the stomach sack--on one side or the other--right under the eyes (it's about an inch long)--twist it out with your fingers and throw it away. Also pull out the long intestinal vein that goes down the length of the lobster from the sac to the tail. Throw it away too.
Now to work: scoop the green tomalley in the chest into a small bowl. You will want to cream this with soft butter later on to serve with the bread. If you have a female lobster (she'll have hairy paddles under the legs instead of the pointy sticks), you may find orangey roe--just add this to the tomalley, or keep separate for its own butter.
Dismember the lobster--separating claws, joints, legs, chest halves, and tail halves. Cut the meat away from the tail, the joints, and the claws and set aside. Save the shells.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the finely chopped vegetables (mirepoix). Cook slowly for 6-8 minutes (don't brown).
In the meantime, film the bottom of a Dutch oven with oil, heat to medium high, then add the lobster shells. Toss for about 4 minutes, then reduce heat. Salt and pepper the shells, turn again, then pour in the lobster juice, the wine, the chopped tomatoes with their juice, the bay leaf, the garlic, the cayenne, and the sauteed vegetables. Cover the pot and simmer at low heat for 30 minutes.
Remove the shells and bay leaf and puree soup. Return to pot, and add the lobster meat, cut into big pieces, from half the tail (save the other half for the garnish!), the joints, and the claws. Season to taste, then simmer gently while preparing the lobster cream.
Cut away any red markings on the reserved meat from the half tail. Mince the white meat finely, then puree with vermouth, salt and pepper, and enough cream that your lobster cream is pureed and a thick sauce consistency.
When ready to serve, ladle the soup into flat soup plates and swirl the white cream in the middle. Slice with a knife through the cream in a few directions to create an abstract design. Voila. Serve with crusty bread slathered with that heavenly tomalley butter....