Yay, it’s my blog one-year anniversary! I can’t believe it. Thanks so much for following my blog. You all give me energy and inspiration to keep on going – especially when you leave comments!
And now for the Crab Bisque. Yep, this is a soup with Attitude. It’s easy to make, plus you don’t need to be Andy Warhol to make the creamy design on top.
A Bisque is a rich, creamy soup made with shell fish, such as crab or lobster. The shells and meat of the shell fish are first lightly sautéed on the stove top. Aromatic vegetables are then added, along with stock, white wine, Cognac and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The whole mixture is then strained, thickened and the cream added later.
I learned this recipe at the Paris Le Cordon Bleu school, where we learned the important technique of using the shells of crustaceans to add flavour to sauces and soups, not just the meat. I used to throw the shells away as fast as possible, particularly when working with prawns and crabs. But hang onto them- they’ll add rich flavours to your sauces.
Here is a summary of the steps to make a Crab Bisque, followed by the detailed recipe below.
First, place the crab on a cutting board and crush the body and legs using the flat end of a rolling pin (or you could use another blunt instrument).
Pick out several pieces of the crab meat to use as garnish later. Also, remove any spongy ‘gills’ that are visible, but don’t worry if you don’t remove them all.
Step 2: Dice up the aromatic vegetables- the carrot, onion, leek, celery stalk and garlic.
Step 3: Lightly sauté the crab shells and meat in a Dutch Oven or pot on the stove top. Add the diced aromatic vegetables, followed by the fish (or chicken) stock, white wine, cognac, diced tomatoes and seasonings.
Step 4: Strain the mixture and then thicken with either corn or rice flour. Pour the soup into a serving bowl and place a few pieces of crab meat in the bowl. Make a spiral pattern on top of the soup using thickened cream (I used a plastic squeeze bottle filled with the cream to lay my design on the soup).
Step 5: Now insert a knife in the middle of the spiral and move the knife outward toward the edge of the bowl. You’ll see a design start to form (but not quite Andy Warhol yet) !
Repeat all the way around the spiral and here is your finished Crab Soup:
- 2 medium-sized crabs - about 400 g each
- 1 carrot
- ½ onion
- 1 celery stalk
- ½ leek
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 2 cups (500 ml) fish or chicken stock
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- 100 ml dry white wine
- 50 ml cognac
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- sprig of fresh thyme
- salt/pepper to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- To finish
- 1 - 2 tbsp. corn or rice flour combined with water, to thicken
- 100 ml thickened cream for the 'design'
- Place the two crabs on a cutting board and crush the body and legs into small pieces, using the blunt end of a rolling pin (or other blunt instrument). Set aside several larger pieces of the crab meat for garnish later. Also, remove some of the 'spongy' lung pieces and discard (it's not necessary to remove all these pieces).
- Dice the carrot, onion, celery, leek and garlic into smaller pieces.
- Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch Oven or large pot. Lightly sauté the chopped crab pieces over medium high heat, then add the diced vegetables and stir for several minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes to the pan, followed by the stock, water, wine and cognac, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes.
- Now add the salt and pepper and pinch of cayenne. Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until all flavors have been thoroughly infused into the soup.
- Strain all ingredients through a mesh strainer. Make a paste by combining 1 - 2 tbsp. of corn or rice flour with a little water. Return the soup to the stove, add the paste to the soup and stir until it thickens. Add more paste to thicken, if required. Adjust seasoning, if required (i.e. more salt, pepper or cayenne).
- Pour the soup into individual soup bowls, add a few pieces of crab meat to each bowl.
- To make the design on top of each soup serving, make a spiral pattern using the thickened cream. Place a knife in the center of the spiral and move the knife outward towards the edge of the bowl; you will see a 'design' start to form. Repeat this knife movement all the way around the spiral until the design is complete.
- Add small croutons on the side, if desired.