23/05/2013

Crab Bisque

Crab Bisque
Bisque. Classic French cuisine; a smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup based on a coulis of crustaceans.

Don't let that panic you ... it's actually pretty easy when done primally.

You need some crab and the shell, preferably a couple. I collected the shells from a couple of Shetland Dressed Crabs, which we enjoyed as they were dressed, mixed with some tinned crab.

You'll also need some onion, carrot and celery (the mirepoix), herbs: bay, thyme and tarragon (the bouquet garni), cayenne pepper, tomato purée, lemon juice, butter and fish stock. Double cream, too. Traditionally, wine and brandy would also be in, but I have neither ... so I went on without.

There ... all those French terms that make those classic dishes seem impossible really are nothing more than adding in real ingredients.

In a pan, soften some butter, a medium onion, a carrot and a stalk of celery finely diced. Drop in the herbs: one bay leave, a couple of sprigs of thyme and a couple of springs of tarragon. You can tie them all together if you like, making them easier to retrieve later.

Put the crab shells in and pour on a good pint of fish stock. Simmer for an hour, during which time all the flavour from the shells should be released into the stock.

Retrieve the herbs and the shells. Traditionally, you'd smash them up and blend the lot at the end passing it all through a sieve, but (a) I don't have a food processor and (b) I'd like all the goodness to end up in the soup, rather than any bits strained off. This is a Primal Bisque!

Now, toss in some crab flesh. I used 250g of canned.

Add a good squirt of tomato purée, a little cayenne pepper, more if you like it really fiery, and some double cream - just enough to lighten the soup without overpowering the flavours. Maybe 150ml?

Bring up to temperature ... not boiling, but hot.

Now blend it. I do have a hand blender, which works perfectly for soups. I added in more butter here which thickens the soup further and a good squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the fullness in all the flavours.

Pour out into a bowl and enjoy. Glad you didn't sieve it now, eh? Of course you are!


As a reminder, if you wanted to make this more traditionally, add in some white wine and brandy, crush the shells, blend the lot in a food processor and strain it through a fine sieve. Have fun!

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