I have always been a fan of Bisque anything – crab, lobster, tomato. It’s another of those wonderful French things with lots of cream. A while back I came across a recipe for Crab Bisque on William Sonoma’s website (another of my favorite things – William Sonoma anything!) I’ve had the recipe for a while now, but every time I read it, it seemed like a lot of work to obtain a pound or so of crab meat. Yeah, I know, good food isn’t fast food. The soup itself didn’t cook long, which struck me as odd. I thought about my family, and what their particular tastes are – I know what works and what will get a turned up nose. So I decided to do a little tweaking, and the results were wonderful! My non-fish eater ate it gladly and my beloved husband had seconds! Yay! So tonight I’ve decided to post both recipes – take your pick.
To round out what I considered to be a sumptuous winter meal, I served the bisque with warm, fresh-baked bread with sweet, creamy butter and a simple salad of romaine leaves with a handful of grape tomatoes.
First up – the original recipe:
Crab Bisque – William Sonoma
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
3 large shallots, minced
5 cups fish stock
2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1 lb (approximately) crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments (about 3 to 4 cups)
1⁄2 cup dry sherry, dry Marsala or Madeira
Minced fresh tarragon or flat-leaf parsley for garnish
The best-tasting crabmeat comes from crabs you cook yourself. If you have access to live crabs, use them to make this bisque. Two 2-lb. Dungeness crabs or eight to ten hard-shelled blue crabs will yield about 1 lb. of crabmeat. You can also buy cooked crabs and extract the meat. Fresh lump crabmeat is the next-best option, especially if you are short on time; look for it at fish markets.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and cream, and season with kosher salt and white pepper. Bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crabmeat. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sherry and heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the soup into warmed shallow bowls and garnish with tarragon. Serve immediately.
And now my take –
Crab Bisque Made Simple
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 large shallots, minced
3 Cups Chicken Broth
2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Sweet Hungarian Paprika
8 ounces lump crab; in the refrigerated seafood section
8 ounces crab claw meat; in the refrigerated seafood section
1 tablespoon minced roasted garlic
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup Marsala
Fresh Ground Pepper at serving, if desired
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth and cream, and season with kosher salt and white pepper. Bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crabmeat. Add Cayenne, paprika and garlic. Gently stir to blend.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Stir in the sherry and wine and simmer for about 10 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the soup into warmed shallow bowls and garnish with fresh pepper if desired. Serve immediately.
Next time, I might use fresh crab as you end up with bigger pieces, but overall it was delicious.